After winning ‘Best Documentary’ at the Barnes Film Festival, John Reavey chats to COPA90 about his Creator Commission and why its subject matter carries such importance.
Hi John, thanks for chatting to us. First things first, it’s been 6 months since your COPA90 Creator Commission with the London Titans, could you talk us through what it was about?
My piece was about my good friend Alex, as we went on a journey to find out his footballing story. We discovered how he’s struggled with his sexuality in the sport, and how a club like London Titans have made an impact on his life.
Can you give a quick overview of who the London Titans are and what they represent?
The London Titans are an LGBTQ+ football club based in London. They’re a club who welcome players of any ability, race, sexuality, age, gender or other background. They represent a safe and fun space for people, some of whom have previously had negative experiences playing at a standard Sunday League club.
There are players who have come from professional academies growing up and some who've never even played before. Therefore, the ability is very mixed, so it’s a really welcoming environment!
What inspired you to make the video?
Finding out that Alex was bisexual was a massive shock for me, and that in itself actually helped inspire the video in the first place. I come from a very small village in Ireland, and I’ve really not been exposed to anyone who plays football to a high standard that isn’t straight before. So when Alex told me his story and a bit about the club I knew I had to look further into the topic!
Do you have any plans to create more films around LGBT footballers?
I do! I’ve really appreciated all of the incredible support that I've received from this piece and it’s really motivated me to look further into certain areas. I have got a range of ideas across the game, although I think I’ll keep them stored up in my brain until I’m able to get them produced!
What kind of impact are you are you making/hoping to make through your work?
I really want to take the audience on an experience that they don’t expect at the beginning. I love the element of surprise and I incorporated it into this piece by not revealing Alex’s sexuality until later on in the documentary. I wanted the audience to see him for him – his ability and his personality – rather than judging from a label.
I also really want to start a conversation. Discussions like this one are necessary, and help the game grow to become more accepting and powerful.
You recently won an award for at the Barnes Film Festival for your video - congrats! What does it mean to you to get recognition for something you’re so passionate about?
Thanks a million, appreciate that massively! It really was humbling to receive recognition and I’m delighted that it’s happened for this topic. I definitely believe it’s something that not enough people speak about in football today, and for so many people around the world growing up, it can be a really important message to hear.
Why, in your opinion, do we still have no openly gay footballers playing at an elite level? What needs to change?
The last thing that a player who is gay wants is to potentially harm their career with it, therefore, if a club is more open and welcoming, the player’s attitude might change.
I think talking about the fans is one thing, but I personally think it’s the higher powers that can make a difference. I think managers need to publicly announce they’ll be accepting of players and welcome it.
That’s just a starting point, however. There are numerous factors and we have a very long way to go. Once there’s one openly out player in the game, then who knows what can happen next?
To round things off, the London Titans are participating in a tournament this weekend which COPA90 is sponsoring. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Very exciting times! The London Titans are hosting this and are inviting a number of other LGBTQ+ football teams from around London and further across England to take part. It’ll be an 11-a-side group knockout format with 20-minute games, so plenty of football on the day!
It’ll be really interesting to see other clubs from across the country attending, and highlights that these kind of football clubs can really bring people together.
Have your own idea for a Creator Commission? Get in touch!