Joburg’s queer rugby team kicks off 2015 with big plans


Wham players enjoy the rain

Wham, Johannesburg’s queer amateur rugby team, has big plans for this year, with a drive to grow its membership and play more regular games.

The mixed-gender team had its beginnings in mid-2013 when Gabriel Hoosain Khan and friends organised informal get-togethers to throw a rugby ball around the field at Wits University.

It was primarily intended to be an alternative social space where LGBT people could meet and get together in a healthy environment.

A turning point was when the team played against Wits All Stars in September of that year, and, despite narrowly losing, offered an impressive performance. It then gained momentum, Khan told Mambaonline.

“We started meeting more formally and more frequently, became more inclusive and had a better gender balance – and we’ve become more competitive,” he explains.

The 14 or so regulars meet every Saturday for a training session and aim to play a game once a month. While team members now take their rugby a little more seriously, Wham meetings retain their social aspect.

“After training or a game we have a social. We might have a beer or a braai and last year we had a pub crawl. We go with the flow with what the group feels like doing. Half tend to focus on the sport and the other half on the social, so we try balance that,” says Khan.

He adds: “It’s nice to talk to and meet people without any of the presumptions of a bar or club. Those spaces also tend to be gender segregated so it’s great to have a space where there’s a gender mix. We also have quite an age-diversity.”


Wham in action

One of Wham’s aims this year is to grow its roster of players so that it can field a solid team to play in a league next year.

When asked why people should sign up, Khan replies: “It’s the beginning of the year and we often make resolutions to meet new people, and this is a good way to do that – and run around a little bit.”

He points out that, “To join you don’t need be a student at Wits nor have any rugby or fitness experience. We have a coach who will show you the ropes so you don’t have to be afraid of that.”

This Valentine’s Day, Wham will be playing its first game of 2015 as the team faces off against freshman members of Activate, Wits’ LGBT student campus group. It takes place on the East Campus B Field from 11am. You’re welcome to bring a picnic basket and watch the match.

For more information on taking part in all the fun, visit the Wham Facebook page.

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