FOOTBALL is our national game. It’s the Beautiful Game. It’s a sport that brings families together, fosters community and gives us something consistent to root for in ever-changing lives.

Football belongs, universally, to anyone who loves it. My own relationship with it came through friendship. Cities can be lonely places, especially when you move without the root of school, university, or a social environment.

I’d felt the sting of that after moving to London, until I met a crowd of queer folk on a night out who were keen on watching last year’s Women’s Euros. They invited me to the pub and I met up with them to watch England v Spain. So started a summer of pints, mates, and a quick and fast love with the game.

READ MORE: Is Barbie the last stand of in-person 'event cinema'?

Later, my co-creator, Ellie Roser, and I were at the Edinburgh Fringe with November Theatre’s first show. Football was seemingly everywhere. We celebrated Chloe Kelly’s winning goal running over North Bridge and there were kickabouts on the Meadows.

It was then we started to talk about the connection between queerness and football – how this narrative was missing from the increasingly common dramatisations of the sport.

The National:

So started PITCH. It is a play about queerness and football, told through the eyes of a grassroots team and the players’ relationship to the game. It is also a celebration of the wider queer community in football and an examination of how much needs to change.

The show is devised, meaning we didn’t start with a script. Instead, we spoke to hundreds of queer players, fans, and teams across the UK (as well as the FA) and those interviews inspired the narratives we’ve created. You also hear those voices in the show.

There are so many things to explore in a queer understanding of sport, especially football. We were initially interested in the clear cultural divide between the men’s and the women’s game. So many of the Lionesses were out and proud in 2022 yet there is a complete absence of gay male players in the premier league, let alone the England team.

There are questions about how the ban affected women’s football (women’s teams were only allowed to play for the FA again in 1971), and how the re-emergence of the game in the modern age has perhaps created a more progressive fan base, especially when coupled with radical, socially engaged history of the women’s game.

READ MORE: Why this space cadet remains a resolute sceptic on aliens and UFOs

This is in contrast to a consistent supporter history that’s centuries old in the men’s game and isn’t always as welcoming.

We look at the role of money and the risk of acceptance in the face of a $7.6 billion industry (men’s) against a £35 million one (women’s). We also wanted to think about trans inclusion in sport, at grassroots and professional levels, where there can be hesitant, non-conversations happening about the inclusion of trans players.

The landscape of queerness in football is complex. It’s radically different depending on who you are playing for or with, and how you identify.

However, what we discovered through our interviews is a ubiquitous feeling of joy and community that comes from loving and playing football as a queer person. This celebration is the core of our show.

PITCH will be on at Pleasance Courtyard from tomorrow until Monday, August 28