Sydney Swans and St Kilda to face off in AFL’s first Pride Game


Sydney Swans in their Pride Game guernseys

The AFL have officially announced the launch of the league’s very first Pride Game earlier this week to promote LGBTIQ inclusivity and raise awareness of queer issues among fans and players of the great Australian pastime.

Though the Sydney Swans played an off season match in support of the LGBTIQ community with Fremantle last year, the team will face off against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium for points in the 21st round of the premiership league for the first time in the codes history. Both teams will adorn their uniforms with rainbows in solidarity with the community.

CEO and Managing Director of the Sydney Swans Andrew Ireland said the team is very proud of be playing in the AFL’s first Pride Game.

“The Swans aim to be a leader in offering an open, safe and inclusive environment that celebrates diversity,” Ireland said.

“Our home at the SCG is in the heartland of the Mardi Gras, one of Sydney’s most colourful celebrations of diversity. One of the key messages of the Mardi Gras is to end homophobia in sport – it’s an issue our football club is passionate about and one we hope this match will raise awareness of.”

Ireland’s St Kilda counterpart Matt Finnis said the historical match may be the first of its kind in the world.

“This is a proud and important day for our football club and the AFL,” Finnis said.

Finnis said he wants the LGBTIQ community to feel welcome, safe and free to be themselves at AFL games.

“We also know that suicide rates in the LGBTIQ community are significantly higher than the wider community. That is a horrible fact and we want to do our part to help address that.”


Jason Ball

Finnis also acknowledged and paid tribute to Jason Ball, who along with the Yarra Glen Football Club launched the Community Pride Cup in 2014. Finnis said this match paved the way for the upcoming Pride Game.

Ball, who recently ran a fierce campaign against Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer in Higgins for the Greens, was the first male Aussie Rules player to come out as gay to the mainstream media. Ball says the Pride Game will send a powerful message to young LGBTIQ people.

“Growing up, the footy club was the one place I thought I’d never be accepted. Homophobic language was routinely used on the field and it left me scared to be myself,” Ball said.

“Struggling in silence with my identity caused me so much heartache and pushed me to a very dark place. An event like this Pride Game would have made all the difference and given me confidence that I could belong.”

Ball said the 2014 Community Pride Cup proves that this kind of gesture can have an immense impact.

“I’ve seen the impact a Pride Game had in my local community; it has changed the culture of clubs and created a safer, more inclusive environment for all players and supporters. I am so proud to see it taken to the national stage and I have no doubt it will be a life-changing event for many within the AFL family.”

OIP Staff


Image:- St Kilda Football Club





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