Beginning June with Pride Night at City Stadium and holding a fundraiser for Diversity Richmond throughout the month, the Richmond Kickers are going the extra mile to show their pride.
The Richmond Kickers, Richmond’s sole soccer team, kicked off their first game of June, celebrated as LGBTQ Pride Month, with a special Pride Night event. City Stadium had live music and happy hour drink specials for their match against North Texas SC.
The team and many of its supporters are advocates for social justice and equality, especially in regards to the LGBTQ+ community. The squad came out of the locker room in limited edition Pride-themed warm-up jerseys that were later auctioned off to benefit Health Brigade.
Health Brigade is Virginia’s oldest free and charitable clinic, committed to serving marginalized low-income populations for 50 years. This includes low-income and uninsured transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals, who are able to receive free or greatly reduced-cost transition related health care through the organization..
Charles White, who works with the Richmond Kickers Marketing and Brand Management, said the organization recently got new leadership whose focus is on reaching out to newer demographics in Richmond.
“Part of this new vision, reaching different communities that we haven’t reached before, was a big focus of Pride Night,” White said. According to White, the event on June 1 sold 1,600 presale tickets and 4,500 in total, which qualifies as a good turnout for the Kickers. Going forward from Pride Night, the Kickers hope to continue a tradition of recognition and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
The River City Red Army are a group of the Kickers’ most avid, passionate supporters. While many team supporters can be spotted around town wearing the classic red jersey, or sporting a Kickers bumper sticker on their car, the Red Army goes the extra mile in their dedication to bring a passionate atmosphere to RVA soccer. The Red Army can be spotted at City Stadium in section O, aka “The Red Zone” — beating drums, waving their arms, and chanting for their team.
The passion of the Red Army is unparalleled, and is driven by a belief in diversity and inclusion. This belief is exemplified by their recent Prideraiser for the month of June. In the tradition of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, Prideraiser is a soccer-focused crowdfunding site that raises money for LGBTQ-related causes.
This Pride month, the Red Army is partnering with Diversity Richmond to support the local LGBTQ community. For every goal scored by the Richmond Kickers in the month of June, the total amount pledged per goal will be donated to Diversity Richmond. Despite a 3-0 loss at home on Pride Night, the Red Army has still managed to raise nearly $200 per goal, with over 30 different fans contributing.
Richard Hayes, one of the leaders of the Red Army, said they have done fundraising efforts before, but never in this direction. Hayes said the group is unsponsored, and that most of the legwork is done by four or five members. This hasn’t stopped the Red Army from shedding some light on LGBTQ awareness in the city, as well as in the world of soccer and the Richmond Kickers.
“Opening up a discussion is the most important thing. And raising awareness,” Hayes said. They’re doing their part — while the Red Army would normally set off red-colored smoke bombs for the start of games, on Pride Night they set off a rainbow-colored smoke bomb, further demonstrating the love, support and inclusion the Red Army and the Richmond Kickers have for the LGBTQ community.
With over half of June left and three matches remaining, the Red Army still hopes to attract some more pledges. The Kickers have yet to score a goal this month, but even if just one goal is scored, it would be a great help for the Diversity Richmond and the local LGBTQ community. To pledge your support, visit the Red Army’s Prideraiser page.
This Saturday’s game against the Chattanooga Red Wolves is the last remaining June home game for the Kickers, and tickets are still available, ranging in price from $13 to $22. The game starts at 7 PM and takes place at City Stadium, located at 3201 Maplewood Ave. Grab your tickets here, and come out to support the Kickers and Diversity Richmond.
Top Photo via Richmond Kickers Red Army/Prideraiser