KEIGHLEY Cougars have scored another first.

They've announced the appointment of India Willoughby as patron – the world's first transgender person to take up the role with a professional sports club.

Last year, Cougars broke new ground by dedicating an area of terracing at its Lawkholme stadium to the LGBTQ+ community.

The rugby league club says the appointment of India – Britain’s first transgender newsreader and TV journalist, and a long-time advocate for trans rights – "underscores its unwavering commitment to promoting inclusivity in the realm of sports".

Ryan O'Neill, who co-owns Cougars with Kaue Garcia, says: "With visibility comes understanding, and this appointment reinforces that notion.

"We need more representation of trans individuals in all spheres to combat the pervasive stigma.

"Keighley Cougars have always been at the forefront of promoting inclusivity and sparking meaningful dialogue, and this appointment is another step forward in our positive approach."

India said she was grateful to be given the opportunity to take up the patron role.

She added: "I am thrilled to represent this incredible club, which is challenging societal norms.

"My community has faced unjust scrutiny for too long.

"My aim is to represent this club to the best of my ability, while advocating for understanding and acceptance."

The 2024 season for the Betfred League One side is being dedicated to promoting 'trans rights as human rights'.

In addition to making the patron appointment, Cougars have unveiled a special trans-inspired kit which will be worn by the players during their annual Pride fixture on July 7, against Rochdale Hornets.

All profits from sales of the kit will be donated to the Mermaids charity.

The organisation was founded by a small group of parents in 1995, and has grown into one of the UK’s leading trans-focused charities.

It provides support directly to transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children and young people and their families, and professionals involved in care, and works to educate and inform people and organisations.

Kaue says: "Hopefully we will be able to donate thousands of pounds to this amazing charity to promote education and understanding.

"It is our mission, our motto and our ethos as a club to make sure we are inclusive to all – everyone deserves to be heard and respected."

The new trans-inspired kit can be bought via the Cougars website, at

For further information about Mermaids and its range of services, go to