Established in 2019 Belfast Blaze FC is the first football club in Northern Ireland that has been set up and dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Since then, the club has found its footing in the local sports scene, growing its membership to 150+ members and gaining a sponsorship from Pride Sports UK, as well as recently announcing that they will be competing in the inaugural all Ireland LGBT Football Tournament: The Declan Flynn Cup. Danny Malone from Belfast Blaze took some time to answer a few questions about the football club.
Belfast Blaze FC has been all about creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to train for, play, and enjoy football in Northern Ireland. Belfast Blaze is the first team in NI to be set up with this dedicated goal, how have you been getting on as a team since then?
As a club we are building and growing all while trying to keep it as safe and enjoyable as possible for every member that attends. We have a club committee that handles the running of the club and keeps everything in line to ensure that we run smoothly, but like everything else COVID-19 has certainly knocked us back a bit. Despite this, I know that as a team we will get to where we want to be, we already have a number of games and tournaments lined up for when regulations allow us to go back to some kind of normal.
What’s the best thing about being a part of Belfast Blaze Fc?
Being able to play a sport you love without feeling out of place. Its so great to play football and feel welcome. Belfast Blaze have lots of different players on different levels from different backgrounds- so absolutely everyone is made to feel a part of the club.
Recently the team has been picked up by sponsor Pride Sports UK, an organisation working to challenge homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in the sporting world. What does it mean for the club to achieve a sponsorship with such a great organisation?
It was brilliant news to get such a big sponsor from an amazing organisation! We found it hard to get sponsor from any local organisations so we ended up having to look across the water. Sometimes I personally feel that Northern Ireland can be a bit behind the times when comes to stuff like this … but it is great to have the support from Pride Sports UK.
For those who are interested, how do you get involved? Is there any entry requirement level to join the team?
Everyone is welcome to be a part of the team, no matter what football skills or lack there of they may already have. We run training nights and kick abouts that help provide different drills teach new skills, We also have fantastic coaches that give so much of their time to help train people to the best of their ability.
Learn more about Belfast Blaze FC by Following them on Instagram.
Interview by Sam Dineen