A Hero’s Touch

In 2018 Christchurch Heroes became the South Island’s first LGBTI+ inclusive rugby team. Express caught up with three team members to find out what inspired them to join and what keeps them coming back.  

Sidney Wong

When and why did you decide to join the Heroes?

I joined the Heroes touch rugby team at the end of 2019. I remember getting a flyer at FriGay drinks and I was super intrigued as it was the first time I heard about Rainbow inclusive sports team in Christchurch.

Tell us about the experience of joining the team?

It took me two weeks before I registered and went to the first touch rugby training. I still remember my first training with the Heroes was cut short because it started bucketing down with rain so we ended up at the pub instead.

What do you love most about playing on the team?

I love how friendly and supportive everyone is on the team. I’ve grown to know everyone and when we’re together it feels like family. Whenever I’m on the field it feels like we’re representing the best of the Rainbow community in Christchurch.

What has been the most memorable moment you have had while playing for the Heroes?

I’m red/green colour blind and I remember one game where I was dummy-half and I accidentally passed the ball to the referee. The referee ran with the ball for a wee bit before realising what had happened. It didn’t help that we’ve got a rainbow on our uniform and the referee was wearing similar colours. I felt like a numpty, but everyone had a good laugh.

Would you recommend express readers to join the Heroes and if so why?

Of course! The Heroes is all about inclusivity and giving things a go. Joining the Heroes has opened other opportunities too like playing rugby union for the first time in my life. The CFC Classics is made up of Heroes players, so it felt great to have that support network on the rugby field. The Heroes also support other sports codes such as running, and swimming and rumour has it, the Heroes might be putting together a waka ama team in the future – watch this space!

Marguerita Whatarau

When and why did you decide to join the Heroes?

When I first moved to Christchurch I didn’t have many friends and no queer friends either, so I didn’t really go out. When a workmate told me about the team and that they were all-inclusive I decided to join and give it a go.

Were you nervous turning up to your first practice and how do you find it now?

I have terrible hand-eye coordination. I have never really been good at sports, much to the disappointment of anyone that sees my height. So, the first practice was nerve-racking. On top of that, I only knew one person on the team. As soon as I arrived, I went straight onto the field and we just played and played for ages. Afterwards, introductions were so easy because you’d already been passing the ball with half these people or trying to run and touch them, so the conversation was so easy. You could simply mention a play that you’d seen them do or in my case that I couldn’t even chase them when they got past me or the ball half the time. Now every practice is like a social get together with a little running around, I can’t wait to get there, and I don’t want to leave. Sadly, I haven’t improved much on the field, but I still enjoy it and we all have a good laugh.

What do you love most about playing on the team?

The acceptance. I’ve never felt less judged in my life for who I am. No one cared if I was gay or straight or anything in between. I was just Marguerita, it’s rare that you find so many accepting people and I’ll never regret joining.

What has been the most memorable moment you have had while playing for the Heroes?

Well, any game that I was able to play without being hit in the head with the ball I counted as a win. The friends I’ve found, their support and fun times on and off the field have never stopped.

Would you recommend express readers to join the Heroes and if so why?

Absolutely! It was the best choice I ever made. The friends I have made in this team are the type that are there for life.

Adam Hand

When and why did you decide to join the Heroes?

I joined the Heroes as a way to meet new friends after I had just come out, instead of finding friends I found a family who have your back.

Tell us about the experience of joining the team?

It was very welcoming. I hadn’t played rugby or touch rugby before and the support was amazing.

Were you nervous turning up to your first practice and how do you find it now?

I was very anxious about joining but once I met the team I felt at ease.

What do you love most about playing on the team?

Other than enjoying the sun and the beers, the team morale.

What has been the most memorable moment you have had while playing for the Heroes?

The supporters on the sidelines cheering us on is great, even from the opposition’s supporters as well.

Would you recommend express readers to join the Heroes and if so why?

100%! It’s a great way to meet friends, get some exercise for your body wellbeing and your eyes.

For more info on the Christchurch Heroes visit chchheroes.nz or @chchheoes on Facebook.