By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)

Spring doesn’t arrive until the LGBTQ+ sports clubs of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Dolphins e.V., VC Phoenix e.V. and WeiberKram e.V. with support from Squarecompany Düsseldorf e.V. and Sankt Sebastianus Schützenverein Düsseldorf-Wersten e. V. 1925 come together to host the annual Düssel-Cup.

The Düssel-Cup is an annual LGBTQ+ multi-sport tournament that invites LGBTQ+ athletes from all over to Europe to come together for a fun weekend of sports, party, and brunch. 2024 saw over 700 athletes come out for badminton, basketball, football, running, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, and for the first time, square dancing.  With square dancing being a new addition to the program, newbies were invited to take part as well and welcomed with a free square-dancing workshop to learn.

A major component of the Düssel-Cup is the inclusion of the Outreach Program which fundraises money to support LGBTQ+ athletes from countries and areas that are discriminatory and unsafe for LGBTQ+ people. Focus primarily on Eastern European countries, the Düssel-Cup has welcomed athletes from Russia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland. They’ve also welcomed athletes from Uganda and the Gaza Strip as well. For the organizers of the Düssel-Cup, the outreach program is of great importance as sport serves as a platform to counter LGBTQ+  fear and ignorance through community development. LGBTQ+ sports events like the Düssel-Cup offer a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ to do sport that can help athletes develop confidence, strength, and courage to better stand up against hatred and discrimination back home.

The Düssel-Cup is one of many LGBTQ+ sports events and festivals that take place in Europe all throughout the year, setting the stage and paving the way for what LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports represents. This includes hosting gender neutral/non-binary competitions within certain sports and/or offering a non-binary division within binary sports as well. There is also the promotion of tournaments and events designed to promote, what’s known in German as FLINTA (women, lesbian, intersex, nonbinary, trans, and agender) participation in sports that have been traditionally more male/masculine dominant. In addition to the sports, there are plenty of social events including opening social, post-sport party and a day-after brunch as well. These events are important for bringing together all the athletes across the different sports together for socializing and networking, allowing us to use sport as a common bond to build and bridge our communities.

LGBTQ+ events like Düssel-Cup create inclusive and safe sport spaces to invite people of all abilities to come and participate, our managing editor of sports, David “Dirk” Smith attended the swimming competition with his team, SC Janus. The SC Janus team had many athletes participating in their very first sports competition, coming in with a large diversity of age ranges, body types, training levels ranging from novice to experienced athlete) and gender identities. They were joined within a larger community of people who represent diversity in all possible ways to participate in a sports competition that is representative of an equally diverse set of goals and motivations. When all was said in done, everybody walked away feeling happy and satisfied, reflecting positively on the experience, and thinking about some goals they want to set for training to improve different skills and techniques in within their own athlete capabilities. We even won a few medals as well. The most important thing to come out of the competition is that we all had fun, and you can’t ask for anything better than that.