Guest blog | Kris Barber-Midgley on the Typhoons RUFC and Pride Month
Hello! My name is Kris Barber-Midgley, and I am one of the founding members of Typhoons RUFC, Lancashire’s first and only inclusive rugby club.
The Typhoons launched on a very cold, rainy January evening in 2018. I’d never played rugby before, and to be honest, I’d never had any interest in playing rugby either. I remember sitting outside in my car, feeling really nervous and considering going home.
A few months before, I had lost my mum to a very short, painful battle with cancer. An otherwise cheerful, positive person, this had dramatically affected my mental health, and I was clearly in a bit of a tailspin. I was angry, lashing out at those closest to me, and I realised I needed to do something, anything, to find myself again.
I saw a story in the local paper about a new inclusive rugby club starting in Preston, and something just clicked. I needed to do something new, meet new friends, and this seemed to fit the bill.
Sat in my car, I called my mate, Adam, telling him that I think I’d made a mistake and offered to drive to his for a Harry Potter marathon. Instead, he drove to Preston Grasshoppers and offered to go with me to my first training session.
Only six people turned up to that first session. We did several activities, slowly pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. And, over time, this built into something that started to look like something like rugby. There was such a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, all my anxiety melted away, and I was left buzzing, looking forward to the next session.
The club has grown quite a bit since that first session. The Typhoons now welcomes over 70 members each week across two training nights. We have a rugby union team that trains on a Thursday and a touch rugby team that trains on Fridays. Our members come from all strands of diversity. LGBTQ+, straight, male, female, trans, those with disabilities, and from many backgrounds. I’m proud of the friendly, supportive culture we have created and how our club now engages with the community.
I had my own reasons for joining the Typhoons. But when you speak to our players, it becomes evident that many of them come with their own stories about how our team has become a family, supporting them through their own mental or physical health challenges.
The Typhoons now attend all of the local Pride events, raising awareness of inclusive rugby. Over the years, I’ve learned that Pride means different things to different people. It’s a celebration of everything we’ve achieved as a community and recognition of the challenges previous generations have faced so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. It’s a protest, appreciating that whilst some of us enjoy equality, so many others in the world do not. It’s also a perfect excuse to meet friends, have fun and celebrate being yourself, no matter who you are or how you identify.
The support we have received from local businesses has been invaluable. It provides valuable funds, which helps our club grow, and it signals to our players that their community values them. Partnering with Progress has meant so much to our growing team and makes sure we’re able to help more people than ever before.
I don’t fully remember what I expected from attending that first session, but three years on, I can honestly say that I made the right decision. I joined a rugby club, but I found a family.