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'Football United': Rainbow Rovers LGBT-inclusive team beats ex-Premier League All-Stars

Mixed-gender side triumphs 4-2 at Whitehawk FC's TerraPura Ground in Brighton

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Campaigner Sophie Cook and the Fans For Diversity initiative's Anwar Uddin explain the concept behind 'Football United', the Whitehawk FC charity match between an ex-Premier League XI and a 'Rainbow Rovers' side of LGBT+ people and allies

A newly-assembled Rainbow Rovers side of LGBT+ players and allies beat an ex-Premier League All-Stars XI in Sunday's 'Football United' charity match.

The event, staged by Isthmian League South-East club Whitehawk FC at their TerraPura Ground home in East Brighton on the weekend of the city's famous Pride festival, saw the Rovers squad assembled by player-manager Sophie Cook run out 4-2 winners.

Football United, Rainbow Rovers FC, Whitehawk FC
Image: Match officials Lucy Clark, Ryan Atkin and Karl Parker took charge of the game at the TerraPura Ground (images courtesy of Andy Schofield)

The mixed-gender team included players from LGBT-inclusive clubs Stonewall FC, London Titans, Soho FC, Charlton Invicta and East End Phoenix, with former Dagenham and Barnet defender Anwar Uddin - the Diversity and Campaigns Manager for the Football Supporters' Association - stepping up as an ally to take the role of Cook's assistant player-manager.

Rainbow Rovers FC vs ex Premier League All Stars, Football United, Whitehawk FC
Image: Pre-match handshakes for the Rovers and ex-Premier League players

Brighton legend Guy Butters put together the ex-Premier League All-Stars XI, which featured former Manchester United players Keith Gillespie, Russell Beardsmore and Lee Martin, as well as former England internationals Lee Hendrie and Paul Walsh.

Jay Lemonius, Paul Walsh, Ex-Premier League All-Stars XI vs Rainbow Rovers FC, Football United, Whitehawk FC
Image: Rovers midfielder Jay Lemonius battles Tottenham legend Paul Walsh

Walsh was on the scoresheet in the first half, but the highlight of the opening period was a 25-yard screamer from Uddin that flew into the top corner to draw the Rovers team level at 2-2.

After the break, Titans forward Josh Day completed a hat-trick to ensure the Rovers claimed victory in their first-ever match.

The match was supported by Kick It Out and the FSA through their joint Fans for Diversity initiative, and also the Football v Homophobia campaign, while a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Brighton Rainbow Fund, the city and region's fundraising hub for LGBT+ communities and activities.

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Watch the video at the top of this article to hear from Sophie Cook and Anwar Uddin on the message behind the 'Football United' match.

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