By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)
In the lead up toward the first of two International Gay and Lesbian Football Championships happening, this one in Washington, DC on June 7th through the 12th. Our managing editor, David “Dirk” Smith caught up with the head of the DC host committee and member of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, Craig Williams. We discussed co-hosting the tournament with Sydney, social events, and gameplay, what is “antipode” and so much more!
Dirk Smith: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! We shared a post from the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA) announcing the new IGLFA board members which is exciting to see the organization grow. For you, as the organizing committee of the 2022 IGLFA Championships, you are organizing one of two IGLFA championships this year, can you tell me about that?
Craig Williams: So, this is going to be the 24th IGLFA World Championships in IGLFA’s 30th anniversary year and we, alongside Sydney, Australia, bid to host the Games. Well, both bids were strong, so IGLFA decided to award us both the bid. Sydney will be hosting the 11v11 tournament in February of 2023 and we here in DC are hosting the 7v7 tournament here starting on June 7th. We’ve built this event around the Pride weekend here in DC on June 11, and 12. What we’ve planned is that Wednesday, June 8th, Thursday, June 9th are the preliminary games of the tournament, June 10th will be knockout games and finally on June 11th will be all our finals, which will take place right before the Pride Parade. But, you know, when you throw a big soccer tournament like with IGLFA, it’s more than just a soccer. We’ve got social events planned, a registration party on Tuesday, Wednesday is our big opening party. Thursday, we’ve got a diversity panel where a panel of experts who will be discussing the social reckoning that our society is having with the diversity issues we’ve got and how soccer can benefit everybody. Then on Sunday at the end of the tournament, we are hosting our closing brunch because a trip to DC wouldn’t be complete without a bottomless brunch. At the brunch we’ll be presenting all our awards and have a big celebration of the tournament.
— IGLFA WC XXIV – DC 2022 (@DCWorldXXIV) May 27, 2022
DS: Sounds like you’ve planned a lot going in a smaller timetable than usual.
CW: Yeah, in the past, most of these tournaments have been week-long events gameplay is Monday and Tuesday, off on Wednesday, elimination games Thursday and Friday with finals on Saturday. We figured that, as far as the pandemic goes, everyone’s new status is work from home, so we envisioned a tournament that was more truncated. Even on the days we do have soccer, we’re trying to put those games into a 2pm-6pm window. That way people are still able to keep their regular lives going during the week.
DS: It’s always good to mix it up a bit to try and make it so that people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate, due to work obligations or something, can still take part. This is the first year that IGLFA is hosting the World Championship with two different hosts and events. Can you tell me more about how that came about?
CW: Well, typically, the bid process is that you put together a whole package of how you plan to run the tournament. For this year, they received two bids, ours was entirely 7v7 and Sydney’s was entirely 11v11. In past tournaments there have been a lot of times where there’s a 7v7 element of the tournament and 11v11, but they compete because players can’t do both. Since this year is the 30th anniversary of IGLFA, they decided to do both tournaments, and have them be the flip side of the same coin. We talked with Sydney about it, and it made a fair bit of sense. DC is bookended by our Capital Pride festival, and theirs with the 2023 World Pride/ Sydney Gay Mardi Gras. We played around with some ideas and worked it into our logo of the tournament. There’s a word that I’ve become a little bit obsessed with that roll their eyes at, Antipode, which also reflects the theme of this years’ championships.
DS: Neat! How have you incorporated that theme into the promotion for both yours and Sydney’s tournament?
CW: Antipode is a geographical term for the exact opposite side of the earth. It comes from the Greek word for opposite feet. I thought that was very appropriate for our soccer in that we’ve got this antipode edition of the World Championships with two championships taking place on opposite sides of the world during opposite seasons. So, we are using our opposite feet there and we built that into theme into our logo. The logo has six intersecting circles resembling the geometric pattern of a soccer ball with each circle colored with that of the LGBTQ+ pride flag to represent our globally connected network of LGBTQ+ friends. Then, to represent the antipode we defined the equator through the middle with one half featuring the DC’s Capitol dome and the other half featuring the Sydney Opera House and tower. For our tournament, the Capitol side will be the top half of the logo and then we will flip it so the Sydney Opera House is the top for their tournament.
DS: That’s a really good idea too, because this way people can attend both tournaments and pride festivals. Capital pride is an amazing event on its own but also to go to World Pride in Sydney, especially because Sydney Gay Mardi Gras is legendary. Then you add in the World Pride aspect of it, post-pandemic and it’s going to be wild. Are you planning any special things during the pride festival itself for the tournament?
CW: Well, we don’t typically march in the parade, so we just let everyone enjoy that on their terms. The last time DC hosted the championships back in 2009 was the only time our club has ever actually walked in the parade. Instead, we are planning to celebrate the IGLFA 30th anniversary and pass the torch to Sydney as part of our program for the closing brunch. That’s really where it is. There’s also the Pride festival on that Sunday with a full concert, and it’s just a big block party that goes all day. The Federal Triangles Soccer Club also will have a booth set up so, after our brunch finishes, we’ll all go down there and enjoy the festival.
DS: Sounds like a perfect, laid-back way to finish the tournament. What was your inspiration to bring the World Championships to DC?
CW: Well, this, this is now our third time hosting the tournament. We hosted previously in 1997 and then again in 2009. I was a member of the host committee in 2009 and then in 2010 I became president of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club. Organizing the tournament in 2009 was quite stressful but when the year was over, we took all that organizational energy and used it to expand the club. In 2010 we started our own league, now known as the Summer Freedom League and we had our first ever pride night with DC United and Major League Soccer. We also started a women’s indoor tournament which is now grown to be the largest women’s indoor soccer tournament in North America, and we’re very proud of that. as well. For hosting the championships, I think the discussions first began when we were in Paris in 2018 for the Gay Games. We were having a lot of fun with it and the energy felt like we could do it again. So by 2019 to 2020 we had actually started the beginning of a bid for the 2021 championships, including forming the bid committee, started developing the framework started and everything. Then it happened, everything got shut down, and the bid just got forgotten. Last summer, we got the notification from IGLFA that they had pulled their support from the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong because typically, every four years, the championships were organized concurrent with Gay Games. When we were notified that that tournament was not going to go forward with IGLFA’s support and saw they were looking for another city to host. We had already put forward the framework of a tournament, so I sent some emails back out to our committee and everyone seemed interested in going forward with it. Even though it was an abbreviated time schedule, and we were dealing with a pandemic, we had the optimism that we could pull it off. So, we decided to move forward with the bid.
DS: Yeah, that was a big shocker when it was announced that IGLFA would not be part of the Gay Games given the long history between the Federation of Gay Games and IGLFA, but it’s impressive you were able to pull off the bid at very short notice. Are you planning to participate in the tournament yourself as well?
CW: I had been bantering with myself about that, I do plan on it playing it. We’ve got a tournament director who’s running the actual tournament part of it. So that made the decision a little bit easier in that I am planning to play. This will be my 8th or 9th World Championship in terms of the summer ones. A few more if you count the indoor championships at the Sin City Classic in Las Vegas. Putting me into the double digits in terms of the actual sanctioned tournaments I’ve been playing since 2005.
DS: Wonderful! Thank you again for taking the time to chat with me, I am excited to see how it all goes!
CW: Thank you! You can find all our news and updates, as well as social media at https://dcworldxxiv.com/ and we look forward to seeing you there!
— IGLFA WC XXIV – DC 2022 (@DCWorldXXIV) May 13, 2022