Dublin Devils’ deal to breathe new Life to LGBTQ+ club

by Dave Donnelly

Dublin Devils have unveiled a landmark sponsorship deal with Irish Life and Canada Life that will see them bear the company’s logo in domestic and international tournaments for the next three years.

The Devils, the capital’s premier LGBTQ+ and inclusive football club, penned the deal to secure their immediate future, and to grow and promote the club on a surer footing.

Long-term support from the George bar has guided the club since their foundation in 2005 but the new funding will allow them to grow and promote the club on a surer footing.

“In these difficult times, the existence of a club like ours was under threat with this pandemic, so it really does secure our future,” club PRO Eddie Wong said to the Dublin Gazette.

“When Irish Life came in, it was perfect because their brand is synonymous with health and fitness and great support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“One of our biggest aims is to have a women’s team and make that a regular thing. We want to build ties with the FAI and get their backing, and encourage players from grassroots to join our team.”

Their latest deal will see the Devils bear the Irish Life logo in domestic games and, pandemic permitting, the Canada Life seal at the annual Euro Games in Copenhagen in August.

Embroidered on the collar will be ‘1993,’ the year homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland, and kits will be available to buy online from O’Neills.

Financial constraints forced the club to withdraw their team from the Leinster Football League in recent years but plans are already underway to re-enter a team when organised football resumes.

The club also field a broad range of six-a-side and social football teams for men ranging from their early 20s to their 50s, and the aim is to add a women’s team in the near future.

While finances and Covid have put the competitive side of the club on the backburner in recent times, the social element of the club has proven invaluable.

The Devils march annually in Dublin Pride and also contest the Pride Cup each summer against a select team from League of Ireland side Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

While they have toasted league wins and a third-place finish at the Euro Games in Rome two years ago, just as important is their inclusion of all regardless of age, sexuality or ability level.

Wong himself is an example, having grown up with little interest in football but found the club a great way to meet friends after moving to Dublin from the south-west of England to work.

“I actually turned up to, I think, the second ever session. They put an ad out in GCN [Gay Community News] for new players, and I showed up really nervous.

“I was still in the closet in 2003, so when I found out about the Devils in 2005, it was great personal development for me to join a team like that.

“I’d never really played football, and it was a good laugh. I think about ten people showed up on a sunny day at the astroturf in Tallaght, and we had a laugh.

“The next couple of weeks, we got a couple more people coming and eventually moved it to the park and it grew from there.

“Before we knew it, we were entering tournaments abroad and winning tournaments as well. It’s great for the club to come from a couple of people having a kickabout to what it is now.”

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