Every year I have the immense pleasure to see the pure joy and elation of Rainbow fans at the Sydney Swans vs St Kilda AFL Pride Game, but after years of attending this game and seeing its transformative ability on supporters I’m always left asking the question why isn’t there a Pride Round?
Currently the Pride Game is just that, a singular game between the Sydney Swans and the St Kilda Men’s Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams. It is yet to expand beyond the confines of these two clubs into an entire round of all 18 teams like other importantly themed games on the AFL fixture (Indigenous Round, Heritage Round and the ANZAC appeal round). All are worthy of representation and should have their own round but the absence of a Pride Round misses an opportunity to send a clear message on the type of game the AFL wants Australian Rules Football to be.
Both the clubs (Sydney and St Kilda) understand that not everyone feels safe at the football and the only way to start to address this issue is to educate and promote equality in the framework such as a Pride Game. As a Rainbow supporter to walk into a stadium decked out in pride livery is one of the most welcoming sights you will ever experience. I still get goosebumps every time I walk into the stadium for Pride Game. Suddenly you feel like you don’t have to worry. You can sit there, scream your lungs out for your team and enjoy the game. Members of our community contact me regularly to say they feel like they can’t go to AFL games out of fear, but when they see what happens with Pride Game their attitudes so quickly change.
The AFL has shown great leadership in a number of areas particularly with the introduction of the AFL Women’s competition. A competition that has a Pride Round. A Pride Round that needs to be extended to the men’s competition. While simply raising rainbow flags doesn’t change attitudes overnight, it means the world for the LGBTIQA+ community.
Last Updated on Oct 25, 2022