Establishing itself as the most innovative football code in Australasia, the Australian Rules Football League (AFL) will launch a re-naming of a current pre-season match to help tackle homophobia.
The match will be the first “Pride Cup” ever held in Australia and follows on from initial advertising campaigns that the AFL have created in the past to acknowledge the issue in their sport and the wider community.
The Melbourne Herald Sun website states that the game will be between the Sydney Swans and the Fremantle Dockers and will be played on Sunday 15 March at a local ground in Sydney as part of the NAB bank challenge.
It has been stated that the push didnt come from within the AFL but from the sponsor NAB. This follows other Australian and New Zealand banks, ANZ and Westpac, who have been involved in gay pride events and Mardi Gras for the past few years.
The AFL already devotes home-and-away rounds and matches to denouncing racism and celebrating indigenous and multicultural communities but has previously baulked at a themed game aimed at stamping out homophobia.
“The AFL is proud to be hosting this game, and in doing so we are saying to our community that we want to be part of change in Australia,” AFL football operations manager Mark Evans told the Herald Sun.
“Diversity and inclusion is essential to our game. We say ‘no matter who are, where you are from or who you love, we can all love footy’.”
Sydney Swans premiership ruckman Mike Pyke said the players were happy to be involved.
“Equality right throughout the community and in sport is something we should all strive for,” Pyke told the Herald Sun.
“We think the Swans provide a really inclusive environment for fans at our games we know we have significant support from the LGBTI community.
“This is just another way getting the message across that professional sport encourages an inclusive environment.”
This push against homophobia comes as the AFL is one of the only sports in the region not to have had an openly gay player playing the sport.
St Kilda Football Club, which will again host an ANZAC Day match in Wellington, is at the front of the queue to own the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex concept and hopes to get the nod for a regular match each year.
Jason Ball (Picture above), an openly gay footballer who established a Pride Cup match between his local Melbourne football club Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction in 2014, said it was great the initiative had been adopted by the AFL.
“It’s a significant step forward that will help make sport and the AFL a place where everyone feels accepted no matter who they are,” he said.
Last Updated on Mar 25, 2015