By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly
As if Portland isn’t already the coolest queer and soccer-crazed place with our Thorns, Timbers, NetRippers and occasional Festival of Babes, guess what’s heading this way in 2016? The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championship—the queer equivalent of the World Cup!
The NetRippers (NRFC), Portland’s only soccer club specifically for LGBTQ players and friends, has worked on securing this tournament bid for a while. Over the last few years, the NRFC has grown in popularity and members thought it was time to showcase this amazing, friendly soccer club and city. And not only did Portland win the bid, we beat out 17 other cities including New York City!
The man behind securing the bid is Sammy Rodriguez, longtime soccer player and president of NRFC.
“Winning the bid took tons of support from community sponsors. We had letters from Nike, PABA, Oregon Adult Soccer Association, Travel Portland and CC Slaughters, all expressing their willingness to pitch in. Ultimately, it was Portland Parks and Rec. that sealed the deal when they guaranteed the fields (Delta Park), and Oregon Sports Authority when they volunteered to cover the costs,” Rodriguez said.
They anticipate between 30 and 40 teams from all over the U.S. and abroad, which means up to 600 participants in addition to partners, friends and family. There will be women’s, men’s and coed brackets. Anyone can play in the tournament, as long as they support Portland’s accepting LGBT community and soccer environment. This tournament is unique in that participants are not required to have a pre-existing team. Players can register for our friendly coed bracket, in which they are placed on a team with other individuals from around the world.
The tournament is a not-for-profit event, so the money generated will go toward renting fields, venues, equipment and transportation, among other things. They also hope to generate enough funds to create scholarships for players around the world who normally could not participate in LGBT sports. Plus, having the tournament here will not only generate extra revenue for the city of Portland, it will also spotlight how fabulous our city is and encourage more visitors.
Having the tournament here in the Rose City, a place that already boasts a large number of female soccer players and fans, also means more women playing in the tournament.
“Historically, these tournaments bring in mostly men, but now that it’s in Portland, we’ll certainly see more women on the pitch,” Rodriguez noted. “Half our club members are women, and with the popularity of the Thorns and the women’s World Cup this year, we anticipate even more future NetRipper ladies.”
Registration is set to open later this summer. For more information about the Portland NetRippers or the tournament go to www.netrippers.org.