AN LGBT+ football team are returning with a historic endorsement from The Football Association.

Rainbow Rovers, Whitehawk Football Club's affiliated LGBT+ team, will be playing Utilita All-Stars on Saturday at Whitehawk's Terrapura Ground in Wilson Avenue, Brighton.

The team, composed of some of the best LGBT+ players and supporters in the country and managed by Sophie Cook, the first transgender woman to work in professional football, will take on an all-star mixed-gender ex-professional team.

She said: "When we originally launched Rainbow Rovers back in 2019, our ambitious idea of creating a trailblazing mixed-gender team of LGBT+ players was unheard of within football.

"Yet here we are two years later, with the Sussex County FA endorsing our match as part of their pilot looking into the feasibility and issues affecting mixed-gender football.

"For our players, many of who had expressed difficulty being involved in the game previously due to their sexuality or gender identity, it was the experience of a lifetime to walk on to the pitch at Whitehawk's Terrapura Ground alongside players that they had followed for their entire lives.

"Since I came out as transgender at AFC Bournemouth back in 2015, the game has taken great strides forward towards LGBT inclusion with support from all levels of the game.

The Argus: Rainbow RoversRainbow Rovers

"Unfortunately, there is still more to do, and I hope that Rainbow Rovers plays a small part in showing people that bigotry and abuse within the beautiful game is unacceptable and that football really is for all."

The game will be one of the first in the county to be officially sanctioned, as they partner with the Sussex County FA in an ongoing pilot to increase the number of adult mixed-gender football events.

There are hopes that the match will help engage the LGBT+ community in Brighton as the pilot scheme allows more access for all to play football together.

Chief executive of the Sussex County FA Ken Benham said: "We truly believe that football is for all, and as a county FA, we are proud to be supporting Whitehawk FC and Rainbow Rovers.

"The work they have done already to help increase awareness of LGBT+ inclusion in football has been amazing, and with The FA now confirming the event as a mixed adult football pilot.

"It will help increase awareness further, and we are delighted to be part of this fantastic event."

The match will be broadcast LIVE on Whitehawk FC's Youtube Channel, Hawks TV, courtesy of Sports Media Company Your Instant Replay.

Tickets are £5 for adults, children ten and under go free. Tickets can be bought here

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