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Team spirt: 5 other awesome gay sports clubs in Sydney you should also know about - Australia Gay News Network

17 February 2016 | glrfcentral
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Beyond the field, the court and the pool are a host of other gay and lesbian sporting clubs doing amazing work in the community. Here are five LGBT sports groups you should also know about. By Reg Domingo.

1. Sydney Underwater Bushwalking Society


Above: SUBS. Photo: Deep Field Photography


One of Sydney’s oldest gay sporting clubs, the Sydney Underwater Bushwalking Society, or SUBS, was founded more than 25 years ago in 1993; today, there are around 150 people registered on SUB’s Facebook group, including two founding members.

Current committee member and club secretary Matt Kaine, who has been with SUBS since 2001, said members meet regularly for dives and snorkelling around Sydney.

While SUBS has deep roots in Australia, it also proudly boasts a strong international flavour. Indeed, since 2004, the club has been actively involved in the “international gay and lesbian scuba jamboree” Diving for Life. The charity event, held in the world’s best diving spots, brings together LGBT scuba diving clubs from around the world to raise money for AIDS-related charities.

So pivotal has their involvement been in the event that Kaine has represented SUBS on the DFL board since 2009.

“We are very proud,” he says. “In 2008, 20 members attended Diving for Life Thailand. Our allocation from that event was $18,000, which was donated to local charities. So far SUBS has raised more than $30,000.”


Above: SUBS. Photo: Deep Field Photography


This year, Diving for Life is being held in the Philippines and SUBS will be there front and centre.

Partners Jeremy Wilbur and Daniel Royston are relatively new members of SUBS. They connected with the club through their involvement with DFL in the US.

“I can already tell there is a camaraderie and a shared passion for diving in SUBS,” Wilbur says. “And if it's anything like DFL, it will be a wonderful bunch of LGBTQ and straight ally ladies and gents who just want to get the most out of life.”

Long-time member Patrick Makenen concurs: “There are lots of dive clubs in Sydney, but SUBS is a great group of men and women who just like to get together when we can and go for a dive.”

Visit gaydive.org.au or visit their group page on Facebook: @SUBSDIVING


2. Sydney Rams


Above: Sydney Rams. Photo: Deep Field Photography


“Sydney Rams in the oldest continuously running GLBTI tenpin bowling league in Australia having been established in 1983,” says club president Ron Langham. “This year marks our 34th season.”

That the club is in its third decade is impressive enough but during that time, they have also amassed a remarkable collection of trophies, pennants and medals.

“Our bowlers have had great success at state, national and international events including winning a number of NSW and Australian championships and numerous Gay Games and Outgames gold, silver and bronze medals,” Langham says.

“Rams have been represented at every Gay Games since its foundation.”

When Sydney hosted the Gay Games in 2002, it was the Rams who ran the bowling tournament, which hosted over 600 bowlers from around the world.

Indeed, their achievements stretch even further beyond the club’s boundaries. Langham and fellow member Michael McKenzie have both captained the NSW State Tenpin Bowling Team, with Langham also being State Tournament Committee President, Director and Team Coach at various times. McKenzie also represented Australia in the National Seniors team that competed in the Philippines in 2014.

Ten of their bowlers are currently in New Zealand, participating in Proud to Play tournament.


Above: Sydney Rams. Photo: Deep Field Photography


But most impressive of all is Rams’ philanthropic efforts. To date, the Rams annual bingo nights have raised over $35,000 for various LGBTI charities over the year.

Long-time member Lyndon Gaskin has been involved with the Sydney Rams from the same year it was founded. For him, it’s the social element that has kept him with the club for more than 33 years.

And Langham says that’s what it’s really about.

“Sydney Rams is not only about bowling, it is also about friendship, socialising and good fun. With our bus trips away, picnic days, fundraising events and one of the best annual presentation nights in GLBTI sports, Rams is made for people of every age and fitness level. The only requirement if that you want to have fun.

“After 34 years we can safely say we are doing something right.”

The Sydney Rams meets Monday nights at Manhattan Superbowl in Mascot. They are also hosting the annual Mardi Gras Bowling tournament on Monday, February 29. Go to www.sydneyrams.id.au and follow them on Facebook .


3. Australian Sailing and Cruising Club


Above: Australian Sailing and Cruising Club. Photo: Deep Field Photography


Sailing for Paul White has been a lifelong pursuit. It’s passion that has been nurtured ever since he was a young boy living in the UK.

“I first started sailing dinghies as a child and then started racing in Lasers,” he tells SX.

He would later join the Gay UK Sailing Team to compete at the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney. They won the silver medal.

Five years later, White moved to Australia and it was then he joined Sydney’s leading gay sailing group, the Australian Sailing and Cruising Club (ASCC). He has been on the club’s committee since 2009.

Founded in 1991, the ASCC provides an outlet for LGBT people to come together and share in their passion for sailing and the sea. Currently, the ASCC has 25 registered members.

“It’s a real cross section of people who all love getting out on – and sometimes in – the water,” White says.

“We hold a mixture of social on and off-water events but there are also some of us who race – from languid evening races in the summer to some like me who race all-year round.

“There are people who live on their boat and some who only go out in the summer. Like all clubs, it’s what you make of it.”


Above: Australian Sailing and Cruising Club. Photo: Deep Field Photography


A keen racer, White regularly ventures out in his Weta Trimaran. He is currently participating in the Sydney Harbour series as well as longer marathon sailing events for small boats around NSW.

But are only sailboats allowed in the ASCC? No, says White.

“We also welcome owners of power boats, kayaks, dinghies, windsurfers, SUP or kiteSurfers and some of our members are also dragonboat paddlers – if you love the sea, so do we.”

And even if you don’t own a boat but have an enthusiasm for being on the water, the club would love to hear from you.

“The ASCC started as a sailing club although we recognise that not everyone is a sailor,” White says. “But still, it’s good to get out on the water with people who understand your passion for the sea and for the same sex.”

Visit ascc.org.au .


4. Sydney Dance Fiends


Above: Sydney Dance Fiends. Photo: Reg Domingo


“Sydney Dance Fiends was established in 2012 by a small group of dancers concerned at the lack of a stable, inclusive, community-oriented dance competition in Sydney for same-sex dancers and the gay and lesbian community,” says club president GL Lee.

“The Australian dance sport organising bodies share the views of the Marriage Act and do not allow same-sex couples to register for general competition, so it is up to us to create opportunities to dance and to compete.”

Since its inception, the club has run three successful yearly dance events in Sydney and have carved a spot on the mid-year dance sport calendar. This year’s dance competition will be held on July 16 at Marrickville Town Hall.

Lee says Fiends has around 170 members including “around 60 dancers and a great many friends and supporters of same sex dancing”.

“Participating members travel to dance at international same-sex dance competitions and at interstate events,” Lee said. “Fiends membership includes national champion couples in both Standard and Latin disciplines, and a number of international medallists.”

Among them is Lyn Fong, who with dance partner Milana Deitch, has won numerous prestigious titles over the years.

“I like the way Fiends brings same-sex dancers together socially and in competition,” Fong says.

“It attracts dancers from other parts of Australia and the world to its competition in Sydney.” But as well as competition, Fiends is also about just giving it a go.

Claus Christensen takes to the floor with his dance partner Chris Cao. For him, Fiends provides an opportunity to connect with other people who enjoy the sport.

Oshan de Silva has been competing with his dance partner Nicolas Emmanuel-Emile since 2007.


Above: Sydney Dance Fiends. Photo: Reg Domingo


“It’s a great community with different backgrounds but share one common thing – love of dancing,” de Silva says. “It’s fun, inclusive and friendly.”

Amanda Nairn and Sharon Riley have been dancing together for eight years. Nairn, a founding member of Fiends, is proud of what the club has achieved.

“We have managed to create momentum around a Sydney-based mid-year dance event with the recognition of dancers, a committed volunteer group and a strong following in the community,” she says.

Go to sydneysamesexdancing.com or follow them on Facebook .


5. Sydney Hotshots


Above: Sydney Hotshots. Photo: Deep Field Photography


When Richard Bonner moved to Sydney from Scotland a couple of years ago, he was eager to continue nurturing his hobby: badminton. He was a casual player that played on and off, and joining a local group would’ve been a good way to meet new people.

But to his disappointment, there were no gay and lesbian badminton clubs in existence. Next move: create one himself. Thus, Sydney Hotshots was born.

“The group was established in September 2014,” Bonner tells SX. “We have approximately 300 members, however the core group who play most weeks numbers about 20.”

Unlike most other LGBT sporting clubs which compete in tournaments and leagues, Sydney Hotshots exists primarily as a forum to connect LGBT people with an interest in badminton.

“We are exclusively a social group and don’t get involved in any competitions as such – just a bunch of mates getting together and having some fun games of badminton every week,” Bonner says.


Above: Sydney Hotshots. Photo: Deep Field Photography


“The sessions are completely open for anyone to play anyone – there are no cliques and no exclusion of anyone based on ability or experience.

“The group has also developed a fairly active social scene and we’re regularly meeting up outside of badminton games for dinners, drinks and other activities.”

As the group expands, Bonner hopes to incorporate a more structured approach to practice and training, but for now, it’s just all about “casual games”.

Bonner encourages anyone with an interest in badminton to get in touch and come along.

“As well as the chance to play some badminton, the group is a fantastic way to meet to meet other LGBT folk.

“We don’t take ourselves seriously and it’s all about having fun.”

Sydney Hotshots meet on Tuesday nights at Robyn Webster Sports Centre. Go to www.meetup.com/sydney-hotshots


All clubs featured are part of Team Sydney. To find out more about Team Sydney, visit their website here .


Author Reg Domingo


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