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Pink Ladies Hockey Club have been representing Ireland amongst the PinkHockey community for five seasons to date – bronze medalists at the 2011 EuroGames in Rotterdam, gold & silver medalists at the self-hosted Dublin Pink Hockey Fest in 2012, silver & bronze medalists at the 2013 World OutGames in Antwerp, silver & bronze medalists at London PinkHockey Fest 2014, and silver & bronze medalists at the 2015 Eurogames in Stockholm! All excellent achievements, no doubt – but Pink Ladies Hockey Club’s BIGGEST victory to date has been establishing a safe and inclusive community in which enduring friendships and lasting memories are made through the medium of a mixed ability LGBT sport. Pink Ladies Hockey Club was even nominated for the Sports Award at the 2015 GALAs LGBT Awards for its contribution to LGBT sporting life in Ireland, alongside out n’ proud sporting legends Donal Óg Cusack and Nikki Symmons.

It all began back in early 2011 when club founder Etain Kidney took the notion that she would set up a gay ladies hockey team. A few hockey-playing lady-loving ladies amongst her mates fit the bill immediately, and so on a sunny Sunday afternoon in UCD the Pink Ladies had their very first training session – all five of them! Etain persevered with a ‘build it and they will come’ approach, and slowly but surely it started to pay dividends. Club mates, work colleagues, friends of friends, eagle-eyed Facebook ad readers – the Pink Ladies ‘Class of 2011’ came together as strangers, travelled to the LGBT EuroGames in Rotterdam as a team, and returned home as best mates bearing bronze medals!

Such was the level of craic had in Rotterdam that the Pink Ladies decided it would be a super idea to invite all of the new friends they’d made from around the world to come and play a tournament in Dublin – and so, Dublin Pink Hockey Fest was born. The Committee set about making plans and played an absolute blinder in organising a stellar tournament which attracted competing teams from the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, and even Australia. Meanwhile, the Pink Lady ranks had grown on the training pitch, and by the time the tournament rolled around there were enough players to field TWO teams! The Ladies claimed the gold medals, and The Pinks the silver – but social lives proved the REAL winners in the aftermath of Dublin Pink Hockey Fest, as the Pink Ladies’ bond became iron-clad. It was that fateful summer that our club motto came to fruition: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer bibendum haec seria!” Translated from Latin? “This drinking team has a SERIOUS hockey problem!”

The Pink Ladies couldn’t WAIT to get back into action for season three, moving into a new home in Pembroke HC and yet again welcoming a number of new faces aboard – all leading up to the biggest adventure yet – the World OutGames in Antwerp. Despite well and truly losing the run of themselves on the very first night of the Belgian odyssey, the Pink Ladies managed to pull it together and put in one hell of a performance – both on AND off the pitch! –  with The Pinks winning silver medals in the final and The Ladies claiming bronze in a nail-biting third place playoff penalty shoot-out. But the defining image of the trip will eternally be that of 25 jumpsuit-clad Pink Ladies in chains parading in front of all of their new European friends at the tournament’s fancy dress barbecue– turns out PINK is the new black!

The 2014 season again brought many new players into the Pink Lady family, and months of hard work in training saw our hockey skills reach new heights in preparation for our summer trip to London PinkHockey Fest. Our tour squad expanded to welcome some German and Dutch friends in the ranks, and after three days of epic hockey action in London, it was ANOTHER double podium finish for Pink Ladies Hockey Club – The Ladies claimed silver, and The Pinks took home bronze! May thanks to our pals in London Royals Hockey Club for organising such a stellar event.

With a new training pitch, an influx of new members from clubs all over Leinster and an important milestone reached as we celebrated our fifth birthday, the 2015 season was a landmark one for Pink Ladies Hockey Club… There were record training attendance numbers and many new friendships formed as we prepared to travel to Stockholm to compete in the 2015 EuroGames – and it really showed on the pitch! In the end it was ANOTHER double podium finish for the club, keeping our perfect record in tact with The Ladies clinching silver, and The Pinks winning bronze! Also, we just couldn’t resist celebrating marriage equality one more time with our PinkHockey pals – so, in tribute to Ireland being awesome, we attended the annual fancy dress BBQ as a PRIDE flag!

The 2016 season saw many a sunny evening (despite living in Ireland, the sun always seems to shine on the Pink Ladies) spent training together, with faces new and old. And when we weren’t hard at work on the pitch, we were enjoying a post-training ‘cordial’ or one of the many events organised by our tireless social committee. And before we knew it, it was suddenly time to head off to Berlin, for the 2016 Berlin Pink Hockey Fest. With an influx of new teams into the tournament, Pink Ladies were just pipped to medalling position by a particularly strong performance from the Dutch and English squads (YAAAS GIRLS! #womenliftingwomenup). It’s safe to say though, that the off-pitch performance by the Pink Ladies was award-winning!

From seasoned players to those who’ve never held a stick before – every year I’ve been bowled over by how much people’s hockey skills have improved. It’s all down to the fun and supportive training atmosphere that the Pink Ladies create!

Lucy Whitaker

The Pink Ladies have become a family to me – if you’re nervous about joining, then you’ll already have something in common with everyone – we were all newbies at some point!

Joe Quinn