PRIDE ON SHOW AS RANGERS LINE UP

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Duncan Jones, Paul Flynn and Ian Rathmell at a training session at the weekend. Photo: Matthew Vasilescu

THE Sydney Rangers have won a 20-year campaign to become Australia’s first openly gay and inclusive football club with the ongoing goal of tackling homophobia in the sport.

The team, which has previously played under the umbrella of the Balmain and District Football Club, has been granted approval from the Canterbury District Soccer Association to become an independent team in its own right.

Club president Mark Robinson said the decision marked the end of a 20-year wait for the squad to line up on the field in their own jerseys.

“We have always sought to change perception and stimulate debate around homophobia in sport, now we get to do so with the pride of wearing our own jerseys,” Robinson said.

“In the last 20 years, we have seen the club grow from a handful of players kicking a ball around in a park, to now having over 90 members and five teams.

“Since day one, the focus has always been to promote a healthy, vibrant and tolerant society through playing the sport we love.

“From the individual stories of our players, to the lack of representation of gay soccer players at the professional level, we still see an important role for our club in tackling homophobia at a grassroots level.”

Robinson thanked the Balmain and District Football Club for its support towards the team since 1997.

The Rangers start the season by hosting their annual mardi gras football tournament at Lambert Park in Leichhardt from 9am on February 24.