When Sydney Rangers President Mark Robinson pulls on the Sydney Rangers kit week in week out, there’s no one prouder out there than this passionate volunteer of our game.
Known as the first Australian Gay and inclusive men’s football team, the 36-year-old has been a prominent figure head at the club ever since he joined in 2009.
Competing in the Canterbury District Soccer Football Association, Robinson has worked tirelessly in his eleven years with the club ensuring each participant is enjoying their football experience.
“I’ve been involved as a Player, Coach, Treasurer, Vice-President and now President at the Sydney Rangers.
“I’ve also been involved as club’s representative for Pride Football Australia and International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA).”
Volunteers are quite simply the lifeblood of any club and Sydney Rangers led by Robinson have been blessed with some of the best going around.
“We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers and I’d love to take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone who helps their local club.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our community, club and sport.
“Our volunteers are involved in club administration, coaching, finding sponsors, running our community events at places like Mardi Gras Fair Day and standing in the cold every single Saturday cooking sausages (Thanks Stratos!).
“So for us, they’re vital and I know that’s the case across the board.
“Many of our members are actively engaged with the club, but we have five volunteers on our committee. Then we have around 10 people involved on a coaching and sub-committee level who are involved in the coaching, running and promotion of our club and its values of inclusive and respectful sport for all.”
With the recent announcement of community football getting the green light to take flight once more on July 1, Robinson and co have been busily preparing both on and off the pitch – a feeling he was waiting for ever since restrictions hit the code in March earlier this year.
“I sent two emojis to the committee, a party hat and champagne bottle when I heard the news we were back on.
“Obviously the Pandemic and it’s impacts are far more serious than football but it’s been a really frustrating autumn for all of us.
“We had everything in place to have one of our best seasons ever, with a new team, over 100 members registered for the first time, awesome new kits, great sponsors, and then it all got thrown into disarray by something that’s so out of our control.
“We’re all now concentrating on making the most out of the next few months and we’re ready to hit the ground running!
“It’s been a tough ride, from January to August football takes up most of my non-working life with playing and helping to run our club, so the suspension of the game left a huge hole in my life.
“The social connections I’ve missed most with our varied teams as well as the fitness.
“This was going to be my best season yet, I’m sure! Hopefully it still will.”
Born in England, it was no surprise Robinson fell in love with the world game albeit as a 12-year-old during the 1996 European Championships.
“I was 12 when Euro ’96 took place in England and that was the most incredible time.
“England came so close to winning and it felt like the whole nation was behind this squad of players.
“It’s really hard not to get excited about football when you’re growing up with that backdrop and ‘3 Lions’ as your soundtrack but that’s where my love started for the game.
“My football bug continued when I moved to London from Birmingham in 2006.
“It was the best way to make friends and get fit in the process and I loved playing football there. When I moved to Sydney it was a no-brainer to get involved with the Rangers and I’ve been involved ever since.”
Football remains a tradition in the Robinson household but its Mark’s partner Ben (Bagshaw) that also lives and breathes the best game in the world that continually pushes the message across about what the sport means to him.
“My family live in the UK, but my partner is heavily involved with the club.
“He’s one of our most experienced coaches and most recently he coached our victorious Justin Fashanu Cup squad against Melbourne Rovers.
“It’s an annual tournament between two LGBT+ inclusive teams and in 2019, Melbourne fielded a former professional footballer and we still beat them.
“Bragging rights are firmly in New South Wales.”