9 o’clock on a Friday night in Bengaluru is perhaps the busiest the city will get. Vibrant music, tasteful outfits and fleets of luxury cars fill the streets as everyone heads to their favourite clubs.
The folks at GamePoint are too, except on Fridays, they take their club activities a little too seriously. Every Friday night from 9-11, these guys have their game faces on, battling it out on the court.
Upon entering Playzone Indiranagar, I was welcomed by the manager with a warm smile before he directed me towards the enthusiastic members of GamePoint.
What followed was a thrilling display of lightning-fast rallies that would entice any spectator regardless of being a badminton player.
As Ashish Chopra, one of the club members, they don’t just play for fun; they play to ‘kill’. Sure enough, their movements on the court were incendiary.
So what’s the whole buzz around GamePoint?
In its inception, the club had about 4 members. The idea was to create and foster a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA+ and ally communities to indulge in sports.
“You speak to most of the guys here, they’ll talk about the experience of being bullied in school. When they’re deciding to choose a team, you’ll be the last one left and nobody chooses you. So people have a sense of low self esteem around sports,” says GamePoint member Arvind Narrain. Aravind was also part of the team of lawyers challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
True enough, during separate conversations with the club members, a common theme emerged: everyone had a negative relationship with sports during their childhood.
In fact, the club was established precisely to work towards this problem. With the idea of supporting these ardent players who once never associated themselves with sports.
GamePoint is a non-judgmental space where queer people can embrace the world of sports.
“We welcome everyone from absolute beginners to expert level players. We have a system where in the first hour, we play against players of the same level. In the second hour we change it up so the beginners can learn from the advanced players and the latter can work on certain techniques they want to focus on,” says Sunil, administrator of GamePoint.
Sunil also pointed out how since the advent of the club in November 2022, it has quickly gained attention from the queer community and its supporters.
“Bangalore has a highly transient population. The members of the club will keep changing as the years go by. But we want to ensure that despite the members of the club changing, the idea and core values of the club are always kept alive. That the club remians a safe space for members of the community to pursue sports,” says Sunil.
As Arvind Narrain explained, the queer community is incredibly diverse, with people from various backgrounds. The fact that queer people are taking to sports is a very important step towards the betterment of the community. This is why he’s a part of GamePoint.
In addition to esteemed members like Arvind Narrain, the club has also garnered the support and attention of Danish badminton players Kamilla Rytter Juhl and partner Christina Penderson.
On the 24th and 25th of June, GamePoint hosted their first-ever Queer Badminton League, which saw the participation of over 48 players!
“We even had a coach onboard for the tournament to ensure everyone that everyone performed at their best,” Sunil exclaimed proudly, reminiscing how far the club has come.
With more members joining, and the club members helping each other hone their baddie skills, GamePoint might be the new hottest badminton club in the city of Bengaluru.
For the members of the club, it’s not just about badminton. The club has paved way for so many friendships among queer community members, making socialization, partnerships and a sense of belongingness possible. Apart from their games, they also regularly meet up for various other activities in and around the city.
We wish GamePoint all the best in their efforts to foster an inclusive and progressive space for all the sports players and aspiring athletes in the queer community.
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