Snakebite from Down Under

• Perth Pythons captain Reid Smith and teammate Ulises Painelaf like the taste of success.

THE Perth Pythons LGTBI+ hockey team are back in town celebrating their gold medal win at the Gay Games in Paris last month.

The Pythons beat the London Royals in the final; sweet revenge after the English beat them earlier in the group stages.

“The London Royals team flogged everyone,” says Pythons captain, coach and full back Reid Smith

”They didn’t concede a single goal in the pool round and scored 20 goals.”

Dominate

After watching the Royals dominate the group stages, Smith says they knew a change of tactics was needed.

“The Europeans play quite a different style and structure to how we play in Australia.

“We knew we had to defend for our lives, which we did, we held them out,”

The Pythons led 1-0 for most of the final: “They didn’t score a goal until the final three minutes, which was very impressive for a team that scored 20 goals in the pool matches.”

It came down to a sudden death shootout and the Perth team came out on top to win gold.

Smith says they were happy just to make the final and went into the game with nothing to lose.

“We were already going to get a medal, so we were a bit more relaxed in our approach, and they had everything to lose… it’s a real Aussie underdog situation.”

The Python’s morale was boosted with some “Aussie-Aussie-Aussie” chants from the Sydney Bent Sticks, who were in the crowd after being knocked out of the tournament.

Hetero-heavy

The Pythons formed at the end of 2015 to provide a home for LGBTI+ people who didn’t feel welcome in hetero-heavy sports teams where homophobia still exists.

“There wasn’t any inclusive space for hockey at the time,” Smith says.

“There’s definitely individual players who took a hiatus because they didn’t feel comfortable playing in a mainstream team… [they’ve] come back to hockey because we’ve allowed this opportunity for them to play in a safe space.

Participation

“We’ve also had new people who’ve never played sport before and are now part of the hockey team.”

The Pythons are based at the UWA Hockey Club on McGilvray Road, and they’ll be starting up training for the new season in October.

On August 8 the team also won the participation award at the state’s biennial sport and recreation industry awards.

The Gay Games started in San Francisco in 1982 (called the “Gay Olympics” at the time until the regular Olympics got sensitive and sued them) and runs every four years.

The next one’s lined up for Hong Kong in 2022.

To find out more about the Pythons go to http://www.perthpythons.com

by DAVID BELL

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