The London Raiders are backing the bid to host the Gay Games in London2018, here’s why. Thanks to Katie Bennett-Hall.
“Through London Raiders Softball Club we’ve been sending teams to international gay softball and sports tournaments for many years. As we’re such a big club we’re often able to send more than one team, or players who fill in for other teams from around the World. I’ve been to the Outgames in Montreal, 2006 and the Euro games in Barcelona in 2008, both of which were magical experiences in terms of competing in my sport that I love so much with lots of other gay athletes from around the world, however it was the Gay Games in Cologne 2010 that was the most inspirational experience of all.
I put together a team of 10 women to play in the women’s softball and as such as I had the privilege of captaining the team. We were also fortunate to be joined by an extra player who became an honorary Raider by the end of the Games. We weren’t a team that had played often together, we were united by our love of Raiders, softball and participating in the empowering experience of an LGBT games – as well as visiting a wonderfully welcoming city in Cologne. We stayed in a youth hostel in Cologne, all in the same room, which cemented the team bonding, but it was out there on the diamond we really became a team.
Following the opening ceremony, where we all proudly walked into the stadium amongst the GB athletes, carrying our Raiders Banner, it was time to take the field. We were a bit of the underdogs, joining in the slow pitch tournament when many of the teams had already competed in fast pitch, and only having one practice session as a team together. We played teams from all around the world. But we were able to hold our own, and compete – winning games against all the other teams in the round robin – and finding a team strength embodying the spirit of the competition. Eventually we placed third, but it felt like we had really worked hard, come a long way and earned our medals. I will never forget the feeling and the emotions as the final game was played, and it was time to celebrate the successes of everyone with the medal ceremony, this euphoria that could only have been experienced by being involved and playing our hearts out. We all ended up dancing around in our sports bras. There’s no other opportunity around to participate in such excitement, interesting, inclusive, friendly (but competitive) sports.
To have the Gay Games in London would mean more than words can say. It’s our opportunity to give back to all the cities that have hosted the tournament, and show the world London is proud, welcomes and empowers LGBT athletes. It’s a no brainer that this could be a legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and this summer London showed the world what we have to offer. There’s so many teams and individuals who are willing and ready to make this happen, and I’ve no doubt it would be an uplifting, enlightening experience that athletes and supporters will remember forever.”