Thanks to Exclusive Books signing on as lead sponsor for the Jozi Cats, Africa’s first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club, the team is jetting off to Spain this week.
The Jozi Cats will field a World XV squad at the Union Cup, a biannual European gay Rugby tournament.
It will make history as the first non-European club and the first club from Africa to be invited to compete in the tournament.
The seventh Union Cup will take place from 28 to 30 April in Madrid, which is this year hosting World Pride in June and July.
Jozi Cats provides a safe and harassment-free environment for the whole LGBTQI community to play rugby without the fear of being marginalised because of their sexual orientation.
For Benjamin Trisk, CEO of Exclusive Books, South Africa’s largest bookselling chain, the partnership with Jozi Cats, “just made sense”. He explained that the club’s values of promoting inclusivity, diversity and equality for all resonated with those of Exclusive Books.
“While we are primarily in the business of selling books, we also provide a safe harbour for our customers to enter other worlds through the books they choose and we believe sport should do the same,” said Trisk.
Trisk went on to say the club, that describes itself as a people organisation first and a sports club second, understands the important issue of needing safe spaces in today’s society.
“This is why we are so delighted to be part of the quest to challenge the status quo around the perceptions of what it means to be part of the LGBTQI community and what it means to be truly safe,” continued Trisk. “Homophobia and discrimination in sport and broader society, both here and around the world can no longer be tolerated and we believe that together with the Jozi Cats we can make an active contribution to these challenges.”
For Jozi Cats spokesperson and Vice Chairman Anthony Seger, Exclusive Books needs to be acknowledged for its brave sponsorship in support and recognition that the club is a catalyst to drive lasting change in South Africa and across its borders.
“It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in the year since our viral ‘Rugby That’s So Gay’ campaign challenged gay stereotypes all over the world,” commented Seger.
“It’s amazing to know we’ll not only have players leaving for Spain to represent South Africa in Inclusive Rugby for the first time, but our Touch Rugby Squad will be heading to the Knysna Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival to promote our #SpiritOfCommunity, #SafeSpaces and #BtheWhistle initiatives,” he said.
“And it seems really fitting that this is all happening on the eve of Freedom Day this year,” Seger added.