I think about this quite a lot, especially when things are stressful and unpredictable, which is often. It takes an enormous amount of energy to run a small business no matter the industry you are operating in and each has its own challenges, which can make or break goals, ambitions, budgets.
At the same time, it is an empowering and educational experience. As a woman who identifies within the LGBTQ community, running a small business is my way of creating community within an industry that is mostly queer and transgender (I use these as umbrella terms) unfriendly and quite rigid around gender. Reinventing the way teams are built and spaces are configured also allows me to show people that yes, sport can be fun, challenging, healthy and focused on development not the Win – Lose thing, not the ego thing, not the aggressive, masculine thing.
Again, it’s a lot of work. There’s venue and insurance costs, the hustle of maintaining your core players and bringing in new players, competition from other groups for venue time, publicity and marketing considerations, branding, program design, coaching, rules and officiating, etc., etc.
There’s also interpersonal dynamics and how relationships come to influence when and where people sign up for programming. With so much choice out there, how does one carve out their unique place? How does one build community?
So far what I’ve learned is that people have an appetite for fun and inclusive sport, but there’s trepidation: “It’s a new thing, I don’t know anyone, will I be comfortable and safe?”, “I’m still learning about said sport, will it be acceptable if I make mistakes?”, “I don’t know what transgender means, what’s futsal? This is unfamiliar to me and a little confusing, different, scary”.
These are valid questions and ones that I keep in mind every time I host an event or a program. Expectations around sport are skewed and geared towards competition and seriousness. It doesn’t have to be that way and I feel great satisfaction in upending mainstream attitudes. While I’m not sure how Lace Up Your Cleats (LUYC) has impacted everyone whose participated or heard about it, I draw inspiration and energy from those who respond to what I’m doing with curiosity, appreciation, respect and love. I do this for them and for myself because it’s important that all people, particularly marginalized people have an opportunity to play, grow and develop as physical beings. We are all capable of sport creativity and solid play. It is with this in mind that I march forward.