In 2015, Flavio Santos, Ivo Teixeira and Giordano dos Santos came together to form Bravo, Ireland’s first LGBTQ+ volleyball team. Since then, the group has gone from strength to strength, performing in the country’s top men’s league and proving that there is space for everyone in the sport.
The founding members of Bravo were already part of Dublin Volleyball Club (DVC), but they felt that were was a gap in the market to create a more inclusive team alongside the existing squads. Speaking to GCN, Flavio explained that there were “a lot of cultural differences and some people from more conservative countries” in the club, and they felt the need “to increase and promote LGBTQ+ awareness and presence” in order to “create a sense of safe space”.
“We had the interest of a lot of people from the community once they knew about it. They felt represented and joined the team together with a few allies,” he added. And as they say, the rest is history!
Not only is the team a two-time runner-up in the men’s Premier League (the highest division in Ireland), but they have also earned gold twice in the Irish Cup. Internationally, they won the 2018 Barbie & Ken competition in Berlin, the 2022 Sinterklass Tournament in Amsterdam, and competed in the EuroGames for the first time in 2023, which was held in Bern, Switzerland.
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When asked why it is beneficial for LGBTQ+ people to be involved in sports, Flavio responded: “Sports are a significant part of our culture and society…everyone should have equal access and opportunities to participate regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBTQ+ involvement can help challenge and break down the stereotypes and prejudices that exist in sports.”
He added, “LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly youth, often face higher rates of mental health challenges, and sports can be a positive outlet. Sports can act as a unifying force, bringing people together from diverse backgrounds; for some of us who might feel isolated or marginalized, being part of a sports community can provide a sense of belonging.”
Furthermore, he expressed, “Being involved in sports can lead to opportunities for education and awareness. Teammates and coaches can learn about diversity, acceptance, and its importance.”
In this way, members say that Bravo is “more than just a sports team; it is a movement, a beacon of hope, and a symbol of the changing socio-cultural landscape of the nation.”
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