Perth Rams to star in Pride Sports Festival

Leighton Morrell of Inglewood, who plays for The Perth Rams. Picture: David Baylis.          www.communitypix,.com.au      d494991
Leighton Morrell of Inglewood, who plays for The Perth Rams. Picture: David Baylis. www.communitypix,.com.au d494991

INGLEWOOD resident Leighton Morrell avoided sport all his life before taking up rugby last year.

After being bullied in high school, the 30-year-old wanted to tackle a challenge and join WA’s first inclusive LGBTQI rugby union club, the Perth Rams.

The Rams, who played in the third division in the RugbyWA season for Curtin University, will don their special guernseys for the third time at the Pride Sports Festival in November.

The festival will bring 14 local LGBTQI sporting groups together to celebrate participation in sport.

Leighton Morrell of Inglewood. Picture: David Baylis.

Morrell, who is a FIFO worker, said he was excited to take part in the festival and encouraged other people in the LGBTQI community to play a sport.

“It is actually very exciting because it showcases us as a team and to all of my family and friends as well,” he said.

“We were known by everyone who played us as being the team who regardless of the score came off more happy than anyone else they’ve played.”

Morrell said he chose to play rugby because it was the toughest sport he could get into.

“I avoided sports actually for my entire life,” he said.

“I was really severely bullied in high school, so I avoided any contact sport or anything that involved competition.

“Rugby for me was a challenge and a milestone to hit.”

Leighton Morrell of Inglewood. Picture: David Baylis.

He said he enjoyed the camaraderie, friends and connections made through rugby.

“I know for me, for instance, I actually watched the guys on social media weeks before I turned up,” he said.

“Even when I did show up, I did try to leave.

“I wanted to do it so badly but I couldn’t bring myself to actually get there. Someone spotted me and dragged me over, fortunately.

“Overall, I think it is those people (at the festival) that may be feeling that same way if they are in the crowd and they see how amazing the overall experience is.

“I’m hoping that they will see what I have experienced in the last year.”

He said the Rams would also be competing at the Purchas Cup, the Australasian Gay Rugby Championship, in Melbourne in September.

Festival founder Simon Thuijs said that last year three in four athletes were more likely to join a sports club after the event.

“This year, we’re planning for the number of sports and athletes to more than double,” he said.

The Pride Sports Festival will be at UWA Sports Park and HBF Stadium in Mt Claremont on November 16.

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