Playing with Pride - Nottingham Lions FC
When it comes to community sports facilities, everyone deserves a great place to play, no matter who they are or how they identify. For Nottingham Lions FC, that place is Gresham Sports Park in Nottingham – a top-quality 3G and grass pitch site funded by The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.
Set up in 2006, Nottingham Lions is Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire’s only LGBTQ+ football club. The club was founded on an ethos of inclusivity with the aim of providing a safe, sporting environment for people of different sexual and gender orientations.
Having started as a kickabout in the park for a number of years, the club has since gone from strength to strength with two thriving 5-a-side and 11-a-side sections, helped in part by the development of Gresham Sports Park. The Lions now call this site home, hosting both training and matches at the site. Thanks to a £591K Football Foundation grant awarded to Rushcliffe Borough Council in January 2019, Gresham Sports Park now boasts a brand new 3G pitch, a refurbished 3G pitch and improved grass pitches.
“The quality of the facilities at Gresham definitely help to attract new players”, explained Robbie, Commercial and Social Media Officer at Nottingham Lions. “It’s an amazing place to be able to play and is close by to where everyone lives. The site is also very secure and not out in the open so the facility is a safer environment for everyone. Here, we can just be who we are and enjoy playing football.”
The Lions now have a record number of players and offer both recreational and competitive football, competing in the GFSN (Gay Football Supporters Network) League. The league is the world’s only national league aimed at the LGBTQ+ community and is open to all, regardless of age, races, nationality, religion, gender or sexuality. It currently hosts teams from across the UK including London, Manchester, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool, Trowbridge, and Leicester with more teams joining every season.
“We have players who’d never played football before and didn’t see the game as being a place for them. Now they love it and some have even gone on to win ‘Most Improved’ and ‘Best Newcomer’ at the end of the season,” said Robbie.
"The site is also very secure and not out in the open so the facility is a safer environment for everyone. Here, we can just be who we are and enjoy playing football.” - Robbie, Commercial and Social Media Officer at Nottingham Lions
And the club’s impact goes far beyond the pitch. They are also actively involved in charity work, raising money for Notts LGBT+ Network and other local community organisations through charity matches and tournaments at Gresham Sports Park. This has earned the club very well-deserved national recognition at Football v Homophobia’s annual awards.
To find out more about Nottingham Lions FC, visit nottslions.com