In our latest edition of Humans of NYCFC, we meet Sean Kiely, President of New York Ramblers.
This is his story...
The Ramblers were founded in the Ramble of Central Park in 1980 after an ad was placed in the Village Voice looking for any members of the LGBT community who wanted to play soccer. I think maybe a dozen or so guys met up, and that was the birth of the Ramblers. From there, they just continued to grow by adding more members through word of mouth, through ads. Again this was in the 1980s so it was a very different time. I personally can’t begin to imagine what that social situation must have been like. I mean, compared to what we’re living in right now.
It’s really exciting to see that Major League Soccer’s social media is featuring all of the different Prides as people have their Pride games throughout the month and throughout the season. I think this idea of the Pride game has grown from something that small to, you know, what we’re seeing now, which is everyone taking their own way of doing it and making Pride games their own. I think for sure, around the world LGBT presence in soccer has become more acceptable as people’s viewpoints change about what a soccer player is or what a soccer player should be, and who should be able to play soccer. And that really is the basis of what the Ramblers were founded around: finding a safe space for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, or ally, family, or friend to play soccer.
Aside from the fact that people want something active to do, there is definitely the social aspect. We try to encourage teams to go out with each other to have brunches, go out after games, or do something on the weekend. We also host a lot of different socials with our sponsor bars in the city, Boxers, Stonewall, Pieces, and we’re continuing to look for other sponsorship as well, just to continue our community outreach and to hold different kinds of events and fundraisers to not only support our own Rambler's Scholarship, but the rest of the LGBT community.
I think that having that connection to NYCFC really puts a professional aspect on what the Ramblers are trying to achieve. You know, that level of recognition really means something toward putting the LGBT community in sports on a national level.
It’s very exciting because we not only get to go to the games, but there’s so many ways NYCFC can work with us on different events. NYCFC helped sponsor our Bob Whitmore Indoor Classic, which is the indoor tournament we host every year. So again, it’s just getting that bigger name on top of a smaller name that really helps us build.
I think presence is everything. Honestly, whenever I talk to people about the Ramblers or the other sports leagues in NYC, a lot of people have no idea that they exist and that they’re as large as they are. Aside from soccer, there’s Gotham Volleyball, there’s the flag football club, there is a rugby club, there’s a basketball team, so there’s a lot of ways for people to not only be active, but make new friends in the community.
I think we are at a point where we now need each other just to say, ‘Oh thanks for coming to play soccer, did you know that if you’re interested in football or basketball you can go there as well, and we’ll help you get connected?'