It’s a strange time for the community, a time of growth and growing pains. Many LGBT organizations and events are finding that greater recognition and acceptance from society at large has also meant having to embrace the concept of non-LGBT inclusion in its membership, in addition to the collaboration from allies that many already enjoyed. Sometimes that shift is seamless, and sometimes it requires a little thought and coordination.
Such has been the case for the former South Florida Gay Flag Football League (SFGFL). Established in 2006 — and a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation as of the spring of 2013 — the league recently underwent a series of changes, and after a year-long hiatus, the organization reemerged as the South Florida Flag Football League (SFFFL) this past summer.
“We feel the new name better represents our goal and commitment to being welcoming and inclusive of everyone — regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender,” says Gregory Ware, commissioner of SFFFL.
While it has maintained its vital function as an LGBTQI charitable organization and Florida statewide recreational coed competitive contact flag football league, it is also sending a message that its aim is to draw a diverse pool of members from across the state.
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Importantly, the SFFFL remains a member of the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) and the International Women’s Flag Football Association (IWFFA). Operating through a board of volunteers, it also has a partnership with SunServe and relies on support from various community sponsors.
“Knowing there is a place in athletics for individuals in the LGBTQ community, helps to build a bridge between us and the outside world,” says Ware.
The league expects to have enough players for six teams this season, including a few teams that play year-round and travel to participate in tournaments throughout the country. One aspect of the league that remains part of its DNA is its set of core values. These include community, family, competition, diversity, education, sport and friendship. With these as a foundation, the league encourages players of all skill levels to participate. In fact, other than requiring players to be 18–65, the league offers everyone who joins some playing time.
This year the season will run from September 2016 through mid-January 2017, and Broward county games will most often take place at Central Broward Regional Park or Wimberley Fields in Oakland Park.
Whether you are looking for competition, exercise or the social opportunities afforded by post-game socials, non-game day activities and volunteer events, SFFFL offers something for just about everyone in South Florida in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
For the Win
The SFFFL hosts the annual Florida Sunshine Cup Tournament, which will take place February 14–19, 2017. To find out more, visit sfffl.org/tournaments.