Six months ago, a 13-year-old transgender boy in Kirkwood, Wash. named Bobby Jones stepped into a fight to affirm his place on the soccer pitch as the boy he is.

Last Saturday, Feb. 27, Jones turned 14, and celebrated his birthday by stepping onto a suburban Seattle pitch for his club, Titans FC. He would take his place at goalkeeper in a game that would count for the first time. His long-awaited debut ended with his first win as Titans FC defeated Nortac Sparta Tacoma, 4-2.

“I was excited and happy that we won,” Jones told Outsports. “I hate losing.”

The match marked an exciting new chapter in a journey that began last spring. As chronicled by Outsports in January, Jones came out to his family as trans and immediately his parents, his younger brother and his soccer club rallied around him in support.

His hopes to play authentically ran into a Puget Sound Premier League policy interpretation that stated, “In the PSPL, players must play on teams of their same sex”. In response, Jones, his family and a groundswell of community support that included Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, sought to change the policy. In November, the PSPL agreed to policy changes that fell in line with United States Soccer Federation regulations, which allow transgender players to compete on the team of the gender in which they identify.

Since gaining the right to play on a boys’ team, Jones has been training on the pitch and growing off of it. He kicked off the new year with his legal name change and recovery from affirming top surgery. After months of delays due to the Covid pandemic, the possibility of competitive play loomed large. “We’re ready for him to stop practicing in the house,” his mother Eleanor quipped to Outsports.

Jones gave up an early goal, but settled in and made some key saves as the Titans FC offense took control in a 4-2 win

The game against Nortac Sparta Tacoma started rough. Jones surrendered the first goal and he didn’t like it one bit. “Giving up that goal was upsetting and I could have blocked it,” he said. “I scolded myself and that works for me”

His teammates, already fired up by the debut of their keeper and with Jones being the birthday boy, would score the tying goal and take control of the match offensively as Jones settled in. “I never get totally relaxed in the net,” he said, but his performance said otherwise, with key saves throughout, as Titans FC offense snatched the lead and pulled away.

After the win, there was cake to celebrate his 14th birthday. Rainbow cake, of course.

The win and his birthday were not the only excitement of the day. A video featuring Jones hit the internet just as he was making his start in the season opener. He had been tapped by The GenderCool Project to be one of their champions last month, and the video served as their introduction to the world.

Even with a winning start to a new season, Jones wasn’t satisfied and graded himself hard. “I’d give myself 6 out of 10,” he said. “but I feel happy that I was able to help my team win.”

Check out the video of Bobby Jones and the other new GenderCool Project champions by clicking here.

Meet GenderCool Champion Bobby (he/him)

BOBBY'S KICK-OFF 💛💚〰️ Join us welcoming Champion Bobby (he/him), an athlete who enjoys all sports, especially ⚽ . Today is his 14th birthday! Add your good wishes to the comments or his WeTribute FB/IG story (@GenderCool). 🎂 To learn more or to support the work, head to #YouthLeadership #TransAthlete #GenderCool

Posted by The GenderCool Project on Saturday, February 27, 2021