LGBTQIA+ Inclusion

Regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, or religion, we want Cougar Park to be a safe and welcoming space for all who come through its gates.
In January 2019, the club was saved from the brink of extinction by Ryan O’Neill and his husband Kaue Garcia.
This saw the married gay couple become the first, and still to this date, only openly LGBTQ+ owners of a professional sports club outside of the United States of America.
Buying the club would give not just Ryan and Kaue, but the LGBTQ+ community throughout sport in this country, a platform in which to make themselves heard as opinions shifted and change throughout sport was beginning to happen.
From that point onwards, the club began to pledge itself to its values of love, unity, and peace, and have remained loyal to these values ever since.
The club has trailblazed throughout the last four years, with the first ‘pride’ match held in Rugby League and professional sport in the United Kingdom following soon after in 2019 as the Cougars faced the West Wales Raiders.
This would see a traditional Pride festival be headlined by a professional Rugby League fixture.
The players would wear a special edition pride kit to raise monies for LGBTQ+ charities with a drag queen famously performing both on the pitch and in the hospitality areas for a crowd of +2,000 people.
Despite the global pandemic, the club would continue to follow its core values by doing its part of for the community by delivering PPE equipment to those who needed it in hospitals.

After the return from the pandemic, the club would host its second annual pride fixture against the Coventry Bears at Cougar Park in August 2021.
Again, the players would wear a special edition kit as the ground welcome it’s first four figure attendance following the pandemic.
Raising more money for the LGBTQ+ community and several charities, the pride fixture would again prove to be a massive success and allow the club to spread the message further into the community.
As the world returned to normality in 2022 following the pandemic, the message and core values of the club would become greater than ever as the club went through a successful year both on and off the field.
The third annual pride fixture in 2022 would see the club defeat the West Wales Raiders in a crowd of near two and half thousand.

The day saw dignitaries of the sport’s governing body, local council and parliament, and the local LGBTQ+ community in attendance on a beautiful summers day. To help promote the event, the players, owners, staff, and families, of the club partook in a promotional video, a first of its kind anywhere in the sporting world, alongside famous drag artists from across the globe to spread the message of love, peace, and unity. On the day itself, the club welcomed drag artists and singers from the local LGBTQ+ community to help celebrate the event and make it the biggest success yet as the third pride kit broke all sales and fundraising records of its two predecessors.
And following another successful pride event of its own, the club proudly hosted the 1st Keighley Town’s annual Pride festival in August of the same year.

On a fun filled day in the summer heat, the club truly showed why it is at the heart of its community and also fulfilling its core values whilst doing so.
The 2022 season would prove to be a memorable and historic for the Keighley Cougars on the field.
The players would go through what would become known as ‘the Invincibles’ season, winning all twenty of their league fixtures on their way to winning the Betfred League 1 title. This 100% record was only the third time this was achieved in the 128-year history of professional Rugby League after Hull FC in the 1970’s and Dewsbury Rams in 2019.
This would include a number of club records tumbling included a club record home victory as the London Skolars were defeated 96-0 whilst both Charlie Graham and Mo Agoro broke the record for tries in consecutive games throughout the year.

And the efforts on the field were rewarded as the club would be awarded the Betfred League 1 Club of the Year award with both Rhys Lovegrove and Jack Miller being awarded the Betfred League 1 Coach and Player of the Year awards.

Off the field, things would also move forward as the club were awarded a £2.25 million fund by the local council to begin the long-awaited development work of the Danny Jones Stand as the current wooden and metal structure entered it’s 90th year in its current format.
Moving to 2023, followed by the clubs’ promotion to the Championship division showed that our plans was to go bigger and better than ever. The fourth annual pride fixture would see the event to be hold for the first time in that division, which attracted newer and even bigger crowds. The club also had its own float at the Manchester Pride which saw players, staff, fans, Ryan and Kaue campaigning for inclusivity in sports, helping to spread our message and promote our core values.

The 2024 season will focus on Trans Rights, emphasizing the importance of supporting the Trans community. Kaue Garcia, co-owner, adds that we all should be doing our part in providing much-needed support to the Trans community, which faces constant adversity and unfair treatment. They are our brothers and sisters who deserve respect and equality above all else.”

On February 18th, 2024, Keighley Cougars unveiled a monumental 12×12 metre flag in support of the Trans community in front of a crowd of nearly 4,000 fans. The flag reads, ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’, serving as a powerful symbol of solidarity and advocacy for a community that has long faced discrimination and marginalization. Special guests, included India Willoughby, the UK’s first trans newsreader, as well as James Child, the first Super League referee to publicly reveal he is gay, to show their support for the club’s endeavours. Soon after the event, the club appointed India Willoughby to become its patron, once again breaking down barriers and promoting visibility to the Trans community.

The flag will be on display for every home match of the 2024 season and the Cougar annual Pride game will be used to support the trans community as well.




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