AFL to play Fourth Annual Pride Match at Etihad Stadium
Pride Cup Australia’s fourth annual AFL pride match will be played at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night between Sydney and St Kilda.
We Are Pride Cup campaign launched on Wednesday morning at AFL House with the intention of promoting LGBTI diversity and inclusion in grassroots and community sport.
The inaugural Pride Cup was played in 2014 after Jason Ball’s Yarra Glen team-mates supported the initiative after he came out as openly gay.
The campaign, which coincides with this weekend’s annual AFL pride match encourages sporting clubs across Australia to host their own Pride Cup in 2019.
Pride Cup Australia is supported by the Swans and Saints, as well as the Victorian state government, VicHealth, Progress Labs and Vasudhara, with a promotional video to be screened during the AFL’s pride match on big screens this weekend.
Ball spoke on Wednesday saying “Six years ago I first shared my story to the media of what it was like to be a gay Aussie rules footballer, what it was like to be in the closet, and what it was like to hear homophobic and transphobic slurs on the field.”
“At the time I made the point that athletes shouldn’t have to choose between being themselves and playing the game they love.”
“Six years ago I could never have imagined I would be standing before you today with rainbow flags at AFL house, backed by VicHealth and AFL Victoria with players in rainbow jumpers from Gippsland, Geelong, Hamilton, Shepparton, Sandringham, from men’s footy to women’s footy, from community football all the way to AFL,” he said.
Representatives of VicHealth, including Stefan Grun and CEO Jerril Rechter, emphasised the importance of working with grassroots sporting clubs, given they are often the “heart” of communities.
“It’s fantastic to have leadership from the AFL at the elite level,” said Grun. “But most will experience football at the grassroots sports club – that’s where they’re having those day-to-day cultural experiences that are currently harmful and not welcoming or inclusive.”
Rechter added: “We know that inclusion is fundamental to good health and wellbeing for everyone, and that sense of exclusion – from sport or society generally – has contributed to LGBTIQ+ people having some of the poorest mental health outcomes in Australia.
“That’s why we’re partnering with Pride Cup Australia to take the pride game message beyond the AFL and into grassroots and community sport.”
Original story here.