An Australian amateur soccer team has found itself at the center of a contentious debate after their exceptional performance in a women-only tournament, which included five transgender women among their ranks, resulted in them clinching the $1,000 prize, as per a report.

The Flying Bats FC, based in Sydney, left a significant mark on the four-week tournament by securing an undefeated streak. Their dominance was highlighted in one particular game where a transgender player netted six goals, contributing to a resounding 10-0 victory, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

However, amidst the celebrations, concerns over safety arose among some parents, prompting them to withdraw their daughters from matches. Officials from other soccer clubs within the North West Sydney League voiced apprehensions, suggesting that the Flying Bats, supported by Pride Football Australia, should compete in mixed-gender games that accommodate both men and women.

Expressing discontent, a senior club official stated, “Our girls are here to play for fun and expect to play in the female competition. They did not sign up for a mixed competition.” The noticeable gap in skill levels also dismayed some parents, with the official adding, “It was so disheartening for them to see the huge difference in ability — they’re killing it.”

Kirralie Smith, representing Binary Australia, an advocacy group advocating for the binary gender model, voiced concerns to the Daily Telegraph, suggesting that the league’s current setup poses risks to players. Smith alleged that some girls were discouraged from raising complaints or protesting through forfeits due to fears of repercussions.

In defense of the Flying Bats’ victory and their inclusion of transgender players, Jen Peden, the club’s president, emphasized their commitment to inclusivity. Peden asserted, “Trans women belong in the women’s competition because that is the gender with which they identify.” Highlighting the club’s values of respect and fair play, Peden stressed the importance of creating a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ members within the sporting community.

Peden further elaborated, “As a club, the Flying Bats FC stand strongly for inclusion, and pride ourselves on safe, respectful and fair play, the promotion of a supportive community for LGBTQIA+ players, officials and supporters, and the significant physical, social and mental health benefits that participation in sport brings, especially to marginalized members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We are a club that values our cisgender and transgender players equally.”

Acknowledging the guidelines set forth by the Australian Human Rights Commission for transgender inclusion in sports, Peden pointed out that transgender players have been part of the club for two decades.

Responding to the controversy, a spokesperson for Football NSW assured the Daily Telegraph that the league is committed to developing inclusive policies within the existing legal framework, including anti-discrimination legislation, and takes pride in its efforts to promote inclusivity in Australian sports.