Guðjón Valur: Coaches need queer education

Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, captain of the Icelandic men’s national handball team and player with FB Barcelona Handbol, says that queer education should be part of coaches’ training and integrated in every leader’s learning. And that frankly, players’ sexual orientation shouldn’t be made into an issue at all because it has no effect on the team spirit.

As captain of the Icelandic men’s national handball team and one of the world’s best handball players, currently playing in Spain with FC Barcelona Handbol, Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson is truly a role model for Icelandic youth. Having played for teams in Reykjavík and Akureyri before venturing on a professional career that’s taken him to Germany, Denmark and Spain, Guðjón has years of experience of playing with multi-cultural teams and team mates as diverse as they are many. So what does he think needs to be done to ensure that The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, ÍSÍ ,tackles queer prejudice and bullying within the sports movement in Iceland?

"I’m in a team now with two black guys and one Muslim. They’re only judged by their performance. And obviously it should be the same with sexuality. But that isn’t the case and that’s incredibly frustrating and just stupid," says Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, captain of the Icelandic men's national handbal team and player with FC Barcelona Handbol.
“I’m in a team now with two black guys and one Muslim. They’re only judged by their performance. And obviously it should be the same with sexuality. But that isn’t the case and that’s incredibly frustrating and just stupid,” says Guðjón Valur, captain of the Icelandic men’s national handbal team and player with FC Barcelona Handbol.

“It’s obviously important that the leaders in the sports clubs show a good example and are well equipped to influence the atmosphere of their teams. If someone wants to come out as gay it’s important what your team is like and the coach of course has to set the tone. So queer education should be e.g. part of coaches’ training to learn how to react to all kinds of situations and first and foremost, how to set a good example and set the right tone in their teams.

But I don’t think it should be made into a big issue because then the spotlight is cast on that one little fact. So that the actuality that someone on the team is gay is never an issue and that he or she doesn’t get attention because they’re a gay athlete but that they get to simply be an athlete. If you’re on the team, it’s simply because you’re good enough – not because you’re gay or straight, white or black.

I’m in a team now with two black guys and one Muslim. That is absolutely no factor in how they’re seen by their team mates. Nobody cares about their skin color, who they pray to or whether they eat pork or not, the only thing that matters is whether they’re good handball players. They’re only judged by their performance. And obviously it should be the same with sexuality. But that isn’t the case and that’s incredibly frustrating and just stupid. I just don’t understand why people’s sexuality has to be an issue, it’s ridiculous!”

“If someone wants to come out as gay it’s important what your team is like and the coach of course has to set the tone. So queer education should be e.g. part of coaches’ training…”

Guðjón Valur says that he thinks it’s weird if gay or queer athletes, especially queer male athletes are being discriminated against, since it seems that it’s accepted that female ball players or athletes are gay. “Personally, I don’t know of any instances where gay male handball players have been discriminated against. But then, I haven’t played with an openly gay team-mate yet so I don’t have first-hand experience of how they’re treated.

But I‘m not so naïve as to think that gay men are simply not interested in sports. I have heard rumors about so and so being gay and – especially abroad – there are stories that some players are closeted gays but put on a show by officially being involved with women.”

Guðjón recalls the case of German football player Thomas Hitzlesperger, “The Hammer”, who came out in January 2014, only after retiring from the sport. Hitzlsperger, who e.g. played for the German national team as well as in the English Premier League, claimed that he had been advised against coming out while still playing for a German club, as people around him thought the reaction would be too harsh. Hitzlsperger has said that the problem isn’t necessarily the dressing room, stating that homosexuality was rarely a big topic there. Guðjón finds that easy to believe. “I think it’s rather the actions of the spectators when you’re playing in front of a massive crowd that might cause players to hesitate to be open about their sexuality. I can easily believe that actually.

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EM 2016 Bjarte Myrhol, captain of the Norwegian men’s national handball team, and Guðjón Valur planned to lead their teams on the court with a rainbow coloured captain armband as a sign of support for equal rights for all. Unfortunately they were not able to do so due to regulations.

I mean, there’s the odd idiot everywhere but when you have thousands of spectators it makes you a little bit more of a target. Because there are things that go down in huge crowds that elsewhere wouldn’t be tolerated.”

Guðjón points out examples from Italy where football matches have been abandoned because of racist abuse from the spectators, to the point where they’ve thrown bananas onto the pitch. “Which is horrible but such is the power of crowd behavior.

He says that however, there’s a huge difference playing before Icelandic spectators compared to the leagues in Germany and Spain, where the arenas are much bigger and therefore much larger crowds watching, not to mention the huge football stadiums abroad with capacities for dozens of thousands of spectators. “I think that Icelandic spectators would rise up against the person who’d be stupid enough to shout homophobic abuse at a player in the field, they’d be told off by others and such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated because it’s such a small crowd and people wouldn’t hesitate to step up.

But in a huge crowd, that’s much more difficult; there’s scope for hooliganism to develop so it’s harder to be an individual who steps up and chastises another spectator. So a huge crowd is more likely to show negativity towards players and having played in front of such a big crowd myself, I can understand why people would choose not to give them more ammunition than necessary.

“…If anything’s going to change, parents are the most important link because as we know … nobody is born with prejudice … Any kind of prejudice starts at home, or at school. It’s not limited to sports because in their purest form, sports are beautiful and noble.”

I’m not rationalizing it or saying it’s an excuse for people having to closet their sexuality, but I can understand why they would, because of this. Then there are simply those who don’t want any attention and prefer not to be openly gay only because of that, they don’t want to be in the spotlight. So if players feel exposed in the field, it’s understandable if they don’t want to make themselves an easier target than necessary.

Going back to what’s going on within a team, well, it all depends on the leaders. If you’ve got good, strong captains, coaches, managers and chairmen, they can set the tone from the start and create an atmosphere in the dressing room that’s not intimidating for anyone to just be who they are.”

A family man with two teenage daughters and a little boy, Guðjón tries to teach his children to value people by who they are, not the colour of their skin, their religion or sexual orientation. But he’s battling the stereotypes.

Þegar við unnum Meistaradeildina í fyrra þá fengum við, handboltamennirnir, að spila á fótboltavellinum sem að er heilagur í augum klúbbsins og borgarbúa! Fjölskyldur og börn voru líka velkomin og tókum við myndina þá!
Guðjón Valur with his children After FC Barcelona Handbol won the EHF Champions League in 2015, the team’s players got to play at the city’s football stadium which is a sacred place for both the club and the citizens of Barcelona. Their families were also welcomed at the stadium.

“My daughter’s been playing football since she was five and I follow her everywhere to watch her play. And I sense this difference in attitude towards girls in sports, they’re always considered weaker, not as fast and boring compared to boys’ sports matches. And I find it so irritating because it’s not true, but we have these stereotypes everywhere. Lesbians are supposedly “strong and masculine” while gay men apparently are “girlie” and all footballers are thought to be “stupid”. But of course you’ll find gay men everywhere, in sports, working as builders, beauticians and everywhere in-between. Same goes for gay women.

It’s so stupid, but if anything’s going to change, parents are the most important link because as we know, nobody is born a racist, nobody is born with prejudice. So that’s where the change has to happen; it’s obvious to me that homophobia and racism don’t start in the dressing room. Any kind of prejudice starts at home, or at school. It’s not limited to sports because in their purest form, sports are beautiful and noble.

In fact, being on a team like this is very much like being in a brotherhood where we go through incredible things together. There can be so much tension and drama, winning titles, losing finals and so on so you have to know that the guy next to you really is by your side and will fight with you. That’s why I judge the next person only by their actions.”

Main photo: Nordic Photos/Getty Images
Other photos: Courtesy of Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson.

 

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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