The Manchester Village Spartans RUFC is Greater Manchester's gay and inclusive rugby union football team.
It can often be difficult for the LGBT community to get involved in sport. A 2016 study by the National LGB&T Partnership found that 55% of males in the LGBT community were not active enough to maintain good health, in comparison to 33% of males in the general population.
One group tackling this is the Manchester Village Spartans. Formed in 1998, the Spartans is an inclusive rugby union club, providing a welcoming environment for those in the LGBT community to participate in sport.
Ali Cooper, 22, was new to the city when he discovered the Spartans at a Manchester Pride stall.
I didn't know anyone in the city, but the Spartans has introduced me to a whole network of people," he says. "I'm fitter and happier since I started playing with the team. Rugby is a great sport, and there is a place for anyone. You don't have to be a certain body type or skill level to get involved. All you need is the determination to try something new."
Teammate Ross Whitenstall, 24, agrees:
Joining the Spartans had such a positive effect on my life. Most of all, I did not realise how much I would enjoy playing a team sport and making new friendships as a result. Since joining, I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and mood as a result. I feel a lot better playing regular sport in my spare time. My job is quite solitary in nature so it is a nice break coming to the Spartans in the week."
Ross Whitenstall, Manchester Village Spartans Player
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