The Falcons LGBTQ+ soccer club will hold its annual banquet at the William Way LGBT Community Center on Jan. 25. Beginning at 7 p.m., attendees can enjoy food, drink and socializing, and the club board will present a new award named for Falcons founder Drew Adair, which recognizes a non-club member or organization that has been a particularly noteworthy supporter of the club.
Other awards include the “hall of fame” award, “most improved” and “most valuable player.” The Falcons will also announce the new board at the banquet.
Since the date of the banquet coincides with the lunar new year, guests can enjoy Chinese food, as well as music, dancing and raffles.
“The purpose of the banquet is just to celebrate what the Falcons have done in the past year and highlight the individual players and teams from our league who have done well, people who have contributed to the club, and to have a fun end-of-year celebration,” said Rob Lizama, the club’s recruitment officer.
The Falcons had a productive year in 2019, celebrating 30 years as an LGBTQ soccer club and hosting a tournament with teams from Pittsburgh, Albany, San Francisco and other U.S. cities.
The club teamed up with Philadelphia Union during Pride Night to organize an evening of soccer games and a small tournament, in addition to marching in the Pride Parade. The Falcons also hosted the Liberty Bell Classic tournament, which entails a weekend of playing soccer and celebrating the LGBTQ community over Outfest weekend. Local and out-of-state players attended.
The club is offering a series of beginners skills clinics every Monday for the remainder of January, except for on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The clinics will take place at the Guerin Recreation Center in Philadelphia and are free of charge.
“We are wanting to encourage people who are unfamiliar or perhaps even intimidated by the thought of playing soccer, said Falcons Vice President Greg Seaney-Ariano. “There’s no commitment to join any team by coming to these skills clinics. It’s a great way to meet people and see how [participants] feel about it.”
The Falcons will begin their winter league in February, so the club’s board hopes the skills players learn in the beginners clinics will help them feel more at ease playing in the upcoming league.
“All of our leagues are recreational,” Lizama said. “We have people from all skill levels, and make up the teams usually from all skill levels, so it’s not one really good team playing against a team with all beginners. We try to balance it out.”
The Falcons began in 1989 with Adair, who saw the need for an LGBTQ soccer club in Philadelphia. After Adair worked hard to get the word out, about eight men came together on a South Philly softball field to play the club’s first game. Comprised only of men at the onset, the group was inspired to start building women’s teams in 1998, when a Dallas team declined to play the Falcons team, which had only one woman player. The club grew from there, and members continue to play in Philadelphia leagues and national tournaments.
As for the future of the Falcons and LGBTQ soccer, Seaney-Ariano said he would like to see more queer participation in the sport.
“I would like the soccer revolution in the United States to take hold in the gay community,” he said. He hopes for “appreciation of the sport amongst LGBT communities” and that folks realize “the potential it has in creating and fostering community.”
The Falcons club welcomes soccer players of all sexual orientations, gender identities, ethnicities and backgrounds, who are at least 18 years of age.
Admission to the Falcons annual banquet on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. is free for full-year club members, $10 for half-year members and $20 for non-members.