St Kilda Football Club and the Sydney Swans are celebrating the fifth annual AFL Pride Game, which is in Brisbane for the first time this weekend.
Earlier this month, the AFL moved teams to Queensland to escape COVID-19. And on Saturday evening, St Kilda and the Swans will play Round 9 at the Gabba.
It’s the fifth anniversary of the colourful AFL Pride Game, believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
The match brings rainbows onto the field and promotes inclusion to ensure LGBTIQ+ fans feel welcome at the footy.
St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis said the now-annual event has “ultimately made us a better football club”.
“We know the entire community is confronting unforeseen challenges through the current global pandemic,” he said.
“But research shows this impact is even more severe on the LGBTIQ+ community.
“It’s an important time for us to send a message that everyone has the right to feel a sense of belonging.
“Playing the game in Queensland gives us an opportunity to take this message to a whole new audience.”
Previously the Pride Game has alternated between Sydney and Melbourne venues.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the match, St Kilda Football Club is also holding a virtual Q&A on Zoom tomorrow.
From 7pm on Friday (July 31) a panel of speakers will reflect on Pride initiatives in sport and the work still to do.
They include Finnis, Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen, VicHealth CEO Sandro Demaio, Pride Cup Australia founder Jason Ball and Saints AFLW star Tilly Lucas-Rodd.
‘Wear rainbows’ while watching AFL Pride Game at home
St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis said this weekend’s match also marks five years of his club’s partnership with VicHealth.
He acknowledged research showing members of the LGBTIQ+ community have traditionally felt unwelcome in mainstream sport.
“[We’re] working with VicHealth to promote inclusion, which we know can have a powerful impact on people’s mental health,” he said.
VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio wants footy fans to still don rainbow attire when watching the AFL Pride Game at home.
“We want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome at the footy, regardless of their sexuality,” she said.
“Elite sport has an important role to play in setting an example… Homophobic attitudes in sport are completely unacceptable.”
The original AFL Pride Game stemmed from the work of Victorian football player Jason Ball. He and the Yarra Glen Football Club began the 2014 Community Pride Cup.
Since then, hundreds of Pride Games have been held across Australia in a range of sports.
Last July, AFL Queensland held their first Pride Round with rainbows on the field at matches across the state.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.