The team at Teach Solais in Galway are doing tremendous work to keep the LGBTQ+ community active and engaged throughout the year. A number of successful activities have been organised in recent times, all of which are highlighted below in our post from Helen, a Coordinator with Teach Solais.
Tell me a bit about the different health promotion and physical activities which have been run in conjunction with Teach Solais?
We've had a number of different activities here in Galway including yoga, our running group, aerobics, self-defence classes, soccer, and walking! We also ran a "Healthy Food Made Easy" Course and hosted a discussion on “Looking after our health as a community”, a talk by two health psychologists from NUI Galway.
What plans are in place in relation to promoting physical activity and better health in the LGBTQ+ community in Galway at the moment and also in the future?
The running group is very active and have just completed the “Hell & Back” (Ireland’s Toughest Mental & Physical Endurance Challenge). The group has continued thanks to the ceaseless efforts of Mark O’Malley, the running guide who gives his time voluntarily. The physical activities were organised by the Community Health Worker under the Healthy Ireland funding stream, which came to an end in March 2019. Amach doesn’t know yet if funding will be available under Round 3 to continue these activities.
Teach Solais also has an LGBTQ+ soccer club up and running, Teach Solais Tribes FC.
What kind of training do they do?
Under the Healthy Ireland fund, a FAI soccer coach worked with the Teach Solais soccer team for 10 sessions which was hugely beneficial. Training takes place in Bohermore Community Centre in the winter months, once a week and all levels and all genders (and none) are welcome. Sessions now kicking off at 7pm on Thursdays in the Corrib Village astro pitches.
What is it that you like most about being a part of this team?
Written by one of our regular team members:
“Being part of the Teach Solais Tribes football team the last couple of years has had a significantly positive impact on my mental health and wellbeing, and the club and its members have become a big part of my social support network. The club represents a
safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for the LGBT+ community in Galway to get together and enjoy ‘the beautiful game’, whether through playing 5 asides, training sessions, or heading to watch some of the weekend football. I’ve found it to be a fantastic place to meet new people and make new friends. Weekly training sessions, friendly games and the tournaments we’ve been involved in, have also enabled me to access and enjoy the many positive benefits of exercise. Sport and fitness have always been a huge part of my life, and this is true for soccer in particular. Having recently come out as transgender, I’ve had to navigate some of the challenges associated with gender segregated sports teams, which are generally divided into traditional male and female genders. When it comes to team sports, many trans and non-binary athletes often find it difficult to find a place where they feel that they fit in, or where they are comfortable enough to express their full selves while playing the sport of their choice. Having Teach Solais Tribes FC as a place to be able to play soccer once or twice a week and switch off from the stresses of the work day has been invaluable to me. Getting out for that hour run around with a soccer ball and some friends, in a generally competitive but mostly encouraging environment, is one of my favourite parts of the week. Alongside all of this, the team also gives me the opportunity to meet and catch up with a fantastic group of friends every week, where we can get together and enjoy playing a sport we all love. Being part of a club where people can truly be themselves and all identities are celebrated and respected is fantastic, and its great to see the positive movement in attitudes towards LGBT sports people in Ireland. With the recent launch of Sporting Pride Ireland, I’m sure that many more similar teams will be formed, and more steps will be taken to encourage and enable our LGBT+ athletes to play with pride.”
What do you consider the barriers to be in relation setting up more LGBTQ+ sports groups in Galway, if any?
LGBT+ people really struggle to engage in physical activities with the general community. They fear being judged and being discriminated against, so it is crucial that specific sports groups are set up to counter the negative health impacts and health inequalities within heteronormative contexts. The biggest barriers are resources and the fear of victimisation, discrimination, stigma and minority stress.
For anyone who wants to get involved in any of the health promoting activities in Galway, what's the best way for them to reach out? (Website links, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., whatever you think is best!)
All our activities are promoted on social media so check us out at: