Why Your Local AFL Club Should Hold Their Own Pride Cup

AFL Pride games LGBTIQ inclusion

A new campaign is encouraging sports clubs across the country to host their own Pride Cup to promote LGBTIQ inclusion, ahead of the third AFL Pride Game this weekend.

The Pride Cup 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.

Victorian footballer and Pride Cup co-founder Jason Ball organised the first one between country teams Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction in 2014, and that match inspired 2016’s national AFL Pride Game which has become an annual fixture.

“Six years ago, I first shared my story 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,” Ball said at the launch of the campaign on Wednesday.

“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.”

Since 2014, more than a dozen other community AFL clubs have held their own Pride Cup matches, and the first one in Queensland will be held on the Gold Coast on July 28.

Pride Cup Australia co-founder James Lolicato said he hoped other Australian sporting clubs would also jump on board to show their LGBTIQ players and fans they welcome and support them.

“Pride Cup harnesses the power of sport to make sure every LGBTIQ+ person feels welcome and supported in their local club,” he said.

“As the heart of many communities, sporting clubs have the power to create ripple effects and transform attitudes.

“Pride Cups have shown us first hand just how valuable this sense of inclusion is.”

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said a survey of more than 3,700 fans found that nearly three out of five participants had experienced or witnessed homophobia or transphobia at an AFL game.

“We know that inclusion is fundamental to good health and wellbeing for everyone and that a sense of exclusion – from sport or society generally – has contributed to LGBTIQ+ people having some of the poorest mental health outcomes in Australia,” she said.

“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.”

The campaign’s #WeArePrideCup video will premiere on the big screen at Etihad Stadium this Saturday (June 9) during the Pride Game.

St Kilda Football Club CEO Matt Finnis and Sydney Football Club CEO Andrew Ireland both supported the launch of the new campaign.

“The Yarra Glen Pride Cup was a major catalyst for St Kilda’s first ever Pride Game,” Finnis said.

“Now three years on, we’re very proud to be supporting Pride Cup Australia’s launch and the #WeArePrideCup campaign in order to expand the reach of Pride Cups to all community sporting clubs.”

Sporting clubs interested in hosting a Pride Cup are encouraged to contact Pride Cup Australia via their website.

(Top photo via Pride Cup/Instagram)

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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