|Oslo, Norway Gay Pride Parade, June 29, 2002|
This year, our tournament took us into the week long Gay Pride events for Norway. It just happened. We originally planed to have the tournament in early June, but could not get referees to officiate until the 29th 30th of June. And there we were, on the field on Saturday, playing our games, when Karianne (Norway No Fear) came up to me asking if we could reschedule our last game for the next day, so we could all march in the Gay Pride parade later that day. It was a fantastic opportunity to hand out fliers, show our banner and recruit more players for Norway's flag football. So, we ask the Angels from Gothenburg, Sweden and the rest of my team: Scotland / Norway POLARBALL Team, if they wanted to do this. We went back and forth (having to reschedule the game, meant having to wake up at 7 AM the next morning to get to field in time for 9:00 game) and we decided to make the change. So, we all left together in car pools, hoping to make the parade in time. It was rush, rush, rush.
We get to the parade, and are dropped off. Immediately, we start handing out fliers and start talking to women at the parade. When we were all together, we started to march in the parade and I was shouting " every Norwegian woman should play flag football". We went through 700 fliers and made good contact with women from all over Norway who came to see the parade. Anki, a woman from Stavanger (west coast of Norway), had come to one of our trainings in Frogner Parken the year before and had wanted to continue to play. There, at the parade, she stood and we both were excited to see each other. I asked if she wanted to play in the tournament, and the next day, we had four new players (Anki volunteered her three friends as well) for the Scotland/Norway POLARBALL team. The Swedes were marching with the Norwegians and also handing out fliers. That moment reminded me of the Gay Pride Parade in Copenhagen 2000, when the Norwegians playing in that tournament also marched and handed out fliers to help the Danes recruit players for Denmark. It is important to say, that flag football is not specifically a sport for homosexuals, but rather, any female who wants to play. We use these gay pride events to reach as many females as possible. And also, we are an organization not afraid to be visible in these groups.
When you think of how tired the Swedes, and other players were marching in the parade (some played their three games), to extend themselves to help Norway gain new players, is a demonstration that they really care for one another and not just their own team or country. This is what it is all about bonding together to make women's flag football even stronger. And this is what we all need to do, globally, to take the sport to the next level.
My whole experience of introducing and promoting flag football in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, over the years, has been fantastic simply because of the support which all of these teams give to one another. There is the IWFFA/ Nordic Region comprised of teams in these countries where there exists a pact between the women to support and offer competition to each one's tournaments. And when we found Anki, the woman from Stavanger, who wants to continue playing flag football, all we had to do was ask which of the teams, in Norway, from the east coast would go over to train their athletes. Hopefully, for the Gothenburg, Sweden tournament in September, we will see this new team in Norway from the west coast, but if not, for sure we will see them in our fourth annual Oslo, Norway tournament.