Fife rugby player named Sportsman of the Year at Proud Scotland Awards
Growing up, Jordan McGhee was never really interested in team-sports, and certainly not rugby.
“My brother was the sporty person in the family,” said Jordan.
“I’ve never really got involved in sports when I was young. Funnily enough I did attend a few rugby training sessions at high school but at the time it wasn’t for me. I’ve been involved in the gym over the years but that’s as close to sports as it’s been.”
But now the 34-year-old, who is an openly gay man, is a dedicated member of Dunfermline Rugby Club and champion for LGBT+ inclusion within the sport, and recently picked up the title of ‘Sportsman of the Year’ at the 2021 Proud Scotland awards.
So, how did Jordan go from sporting novice to an award-winning sportsman?
“A local guy I knew dropped me a message with the poster advertising an eight-week long free Rugby Development programme for men based at Dunfermline Rugby Club.
“I had previously considered attending similar programmes with LGBT+ inclusive clubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh but I didn’t ever commit to anything. However, this programme was right on my doorstep in Dunfermline so it was actually quite exciting, and a few of my friends who are also gay said they were keen to go along.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get into a hobby as you get older, so it was nice to have my other friends come along for support.”
And much to his surprise, Jordan took to rugby like a fish to water.
“I loved it, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed taking part in the Development Programme. I was someone who grew up and shied away from a ball, now I run towards people with one!”
Jordan’s first taste of competitive rugby came when he took part in the 2019 Union Cup competition, a European competition hosted by the International Gay Rugby (Association & Board).
Travelling to Dublin as part of the Dunfermline Knights squad, a registered inclusive team, they walked away as winners of the Cu Chulainn Cup and the Guinness Spirit of the Tournament award.
Since then, Jordan has gone on to support the delivery of Dunfermline’s annual Development Programme, encouraging more people from the LGBT+ community to engage with the sport.
“Sport is such an amazing way for people to connect with each other, learn new skills and keep fit physically and mentally. I feel many LGBT+ people lose interest in sports at a young age, and that has certainly been my experience.
“This could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps because they’re trying to better understand themselves and find their identity, or maybe it’s because they don’t see or know about many LGBT+ role models in sports either in a professional or community level capacity.
“It’s been great to see over the years more big names in sport feel comfortable coming out because this really does make a huge difference to the community. Seeing someone like yourself playing a sport creates greater inclusion in sport and that creates local role models too.”
Jordan goes on the explain that it’s not just players in sport who can make a difference, adding: “Everyone involved in sport, whether you’re a player or a supporter, can make a real difference. We all have a part to play in making sport inclusive for all, regardless of your race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and so forth. Everyone should be able to just be themselves, so let’s all work together and make it happen!”
And it’s Jordan’s commitment to this message in both his words and actions which earned him a nomination at the Proud Scotland Awards this year.
Jordan was nominated for the ‘Sportsperson/Sports Club of the Year’ award alongside Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club, an inclusive rugby club based in the North East of Scotland.
“I’m still in shock from it (winning the award) to be honest, never in my life would I ever think I would win a national award, never mind for sports!
“I’m humbled that someone or some people thought of me when writing the nomination and then to even win, it’s just been amazing. Hearing my name being read out on stage gave me goosebumps and then seeing my table erupt when I won, it’s a moment I won’t forget.
“I think it’s amazing that Aberdeen Taexali were nominated too, they have had a great journey since starting a few years ago. I think it speaks volumes about our sport that there were two finalists in this category from a rugby background.
"It just goes to show the inclusive nature of the game and that there are lots of people out there championing inclusion in rugby.”
Rainbow Laces Campaign 2021
This year's Rainbow Laces campaign will run from 25 November till 12 December with Rainbow Laces Day on Wednesday 8 December.
Once again, Scottish Rugby are supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign and we invite our rugby communities to join us!
How does my club or school get involved?
Sign up HERE to receive up to 15 pairs of laces for FREE!
Clubs and schools signing up for free laces will also receive a Club Activation Pack via email containing hints, tips and tools on how to raise awareness and enhance your rugby environment's to becoming more welcoming and inclusive.
And don't forget to use social media to showcase your club or school during the campaign using the hashtags #EveryonesGame and #RainbowLaces