The month of June proved to be a prolific one for the Chattanooga Red Wolves as they took 13 of 15 possible points from the month’s fixtures.
But for Chattanooga’s Alex Mangels and Jamie Dell, this past month was about more than just simply playing the game—it was about "Playing for Pride."
The pair raised a combined $150 for the Playing for Pride project, an initiative conceptualized and championed by North Carolina FC midfielder Austin da Luz with the purpose of providing a platform for athletes, and their fans, to support LGBTQ+ rights and equality.
Mangels and Dell were joined by hundreds of players around the world who pledged their support for the 2019 campaign.
“I think it’s important to stand by the fact that everyone deserves to be treated equally,” Mangels said.
An effort first initiated in 2017, da Luz built a overwhelming support across the soccer landscape through a combination of profound messaging and assistance from other participating players, helping the program exceed its fundraising goal in year one.
For both Dell and Mangels, the cause is near to their hearts as both have close ties to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have a brother who’s gay, and to think he went so long without being comfortable in his own skin before coming out is terrible,” Dell said. “It’s less about the money and more about the message. This is our way of being a support network and saying ‘look, we’re here for you.’”
Mangels added that he hopes to spread this important message to his fans in his new home of Chattanooga.
“I’ve got friends and family that are a part of the LGBTQ community and so it’s near and dear to my heart,” Mangels said. “I want to spread the message here in my new city and get people behind it.”
Now in its second year, Playing for Pride has partnered with Athlete Ally, an organization whose mission is rooted in the belief that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, should be given equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports.
Through its growing network of participating players around the world, Playing for Pride has become an important example of not only the ability that sports have to bring us together, but also the role that the professional athletes, and social media presence, can play in bolstering such vital causes today.