A new LGBT-inclusive rugby club has been founded, with the aim of “fighting for equality, diversity and comfort in team sports”.
Glasgow Alphas have been in training since October and aspire to become an established club in the West of Scotland. Alphas hope to not only become an inclusive club, but also to be part of a network of rugby clubs with a similar vision and purpose.
Alphas’ chairman, Adam Harrison, told KaleidoScot about his own ambitions for the club, his motivations in helping establish it and what he believes are opportunities within Scottish rugby for the development of clubs like Alphas.
Unsurprisingly, Harrison’s determination to create something inclusive stem from his own experiences of exclusion in sport. “I have a passion for rugby and a vested interest in sustainability for the sport. Being a homosexual man, I know how difficult it is to be involved in sport and maintain in those sports due to discrimination in school. Rugby was one of very few sports that I particularly enjoy, and I wanted to create a comfortable environment for myself and others in the West of Scotland to feel equal, included and be able to play rugby if they want to.”
In spite of these experiences at school, Harrison persisted with the sport that he now coaches. “I have experience playing rugby from way back in school”, he says. “Despite feeling excluded, the sport remained with me and has seen me through some dark times. So I aim to give back those 10-15 years of watching and playing, both to the sport and to others who enjoy it.”
Establishing a new sports club is always a challenge, and arguably more so when you’re creating it for a community that has often experienced the kinds of exclusion Harrison refers to. But he believes that there is scope not only for another LGBT-friendly rugby club in Scotland (joining Edinburgh-based Caledonian Thebans in flying the flag for equality and inclusivity) but a whole network of open and welcoming clubs across the country.
Harrison explains: “The governing body of rugby in Scotland, the SRU, has been very supportive of our venture and has a vested interest in creating more equality within their sport. I know the SRU has plans to get more teams up and running in both Aberdeen and Dundee in the coming years. Hopefully we can develop enough together to challenge the many in England, and in fact around the world, at the Bingham cup.”
Harrison’s vision for the club is focused around what he sees as the needs of the community. Asked what he would consider to be success for the fledgling club, he stated that it would be the establishment of “a support network from an unlikely medium”. The club may only be a few months old, but he admits he has already achieved his main objective of “creating a new rugby family” – a family that has pulled together when injuries occur, which shares “war stories of the past” and has become such a strong, supportive unit in a short space of time. “It is overwhelming to see the men I play with and train up, standing by each other and help tackle life’s obstacles”, he says with pride.
Not that Harrison is blind to the challenges ahead. “Building an inclusive club takes an open mind, some great friends and family for encouragement and the drive to make something to help others. it doesn’t just happen. The perks like the many happy tears, the great team mates and seeing the smiles on their faces come alongside the development of the team and club. It’s a lot of work, but we want to get it right.”
Glasgow Alphas are keen to welcome new players and Harrison and his coaching team will be happy for players of all abilities to join. “If anybody would like to join our great brotherhood of Alphas”, he says, “all that is required is a quick email with your info and details of previous playing experience.” The club is currently training at Whitecraigs Rugby Club in Newton Mearns and at Clydebank RFC.