Queensland’s first AFL Pride Cup match will be held on the Gold Coast in July.
The initiative sees footy teams don rainbow colours to celebrate inclusion and diversity in sport and send a message to LGBTIQ players and fans that they’re welcome and accepted.
The inaugural Robina Roos women’s AFL team made their debut in April and play in QWFA Division 2 South. The team will play against the Surfers Paradise Demons for the Pride Cup during their July 28 clash.
“We’ll be the Rainbow Roos for that week. Both teams will wear rainbow socks, the 50 metre arc will be painted as a rainbow, and the goal umpire will wave rainbow flags,” the Roos women’s team co-ordinator Sally Crosswell said.
“Robina is a club that aims to create an atmosphere in which players and their families feel safe, respected and welcome, so the Pride Cup aligns with those values.
“I could see a great opportunity for the women in my team, and in the league, to become champions for change and to send a message that we won’t tolerate homophobia.”
She hopes the groundbreaking match will encourage other football clubs around the state to follow suit and hold their own pride matches in the future.
“The long-term aim is to have a Pride Round in the same way as we have an Indigenous Round and an Anzac Round,” she said.
The Pride Cup will be held on July 28 from 10am at the Robina Roos’ home ground oval on Scottsdale Drive in Robina on the Gold Coast.
Three-time Coolangatta Gold winner and former Australian ironwoman champion Hayley Bateup will present a special Pride Cup trophy to the winning team and a Pride Cup medallion to the game’s best player.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson Shelley Argent OAM will be guest speaker at a chicken and champagne lunch at 12pm.
To keep up to date with the event, visit the Facebook page here.
The Robina Roos are organising the match with the assistance of Victorian footballer Jason Ball, who organised the inaugural Pride Cup match between country teams Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction in 2014.
That match inspired the national AFL Pride Game, which was held for the first time in 2016 between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans and is now an annual fixture.
Earlier this year, Ball crowdfunded more than $50,000 to support the rollout of rainbow-themed Pride Cups to 150 AFL clubs around the country.
“As a kid growing up in country Victoria, I loved playing footy more than anything else. But, as I got older, the football club also felt like the one place that I would never be accepted for who I was,” he said.
“With homophobic slurs considered part of the game, it took me more than 10 years to finally come out to my club. When I did, not only did my teammates stand by my side, but together, we created the Pride Cup.”
Ball said as players embrace the rainbow footy gear and communities support the games with their own colourful, inclusive messages, the impact of Pride Cup matches goes beyond the footy field.
“As the heart of many regional towns, football clubs have the power to create ripple effects and transform attitudes within a community,” he said.