Keighley Cougars’ pride at parade involvement ‘first’

KEIGHLEY COUGARS claim to have broken new ground by taking part in the Manchester Pride parade on Saturday.

Manchester Pride is an annual four-day event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, which takes place across the city.

The Cougars, co-owned by married same-sex couple Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia, had a float at the parade, which took place in the city centre.

The Championship club has consistently championed the values of diversity and acceptance.

They hold an annual Pride match, and at this year’s, against Whitehaven in June, unveiled the ‘Pride Terrace’ area at Cougar Park.

O’Neill, Garcia and Keighley players were on the club float at the parade.

“At Keighley Cougars, everyone is welcome, just as should be the case in any sports club or organisation,” said O’Neill.

“Through sports, children learn valuable life skills, including socialising and forming lifelong friendships.

“By nurturing a culture of acceptance from the grass-roots level, we aim to create an environment where anyone struggling with their identity feels embraced and valued.”

The club said in a statement: “Manchester Pride, a prominent celebration of diversity and inclusion, provides the perfect platform for Keighley Cougars to reaffirm their commitment to breaking down barriers and fostering unity.

“The presence of Ryan O’Neill, Kaue Garcia, and Cougars players at the event marked an historic moment – a sports club participating in a gay pride parade for the first time.”

Tech entrepreneurs O’Neill and Garcia were part of a consortium that bought a majority stake in the club in January 2019.

O’Neill’s father Mick was one of the key driving forces behind the noted ‘Cougarmania’ period in the nineties, when the club came close to clinching Super League status.