In 2014, the AFL supported the Inaugural Pride Cup played between Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction football & netball teams, with the aim of celebrating inclusion and diversity in sport.
The event was held off the back of local Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball publicly coming out as gay, becoming the first Aussie Rules player at any level to do so. While Jason was met with overwhelming support from his local community, including opposition teams and even from the AFL, his personal story also shone a light on the prevalence of homophobia in sport and the challenges the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community face in feeling safe and being themselves in a sporting environment.
The Inaugural Pride Cup featured a pre-match luncheon, hosted by the AFL, attended by guests from leading LGBTI, mental health, human rights and sporting organisations, as well as committee members and sponsors from the Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction Football/Netball Clubs.
Presentations at the lunch were made by Mark Evans (AFL), Brock McLean (Carlton Football Club), Fiona McAllister (Yarra Ranges Council), Sue Boyce (beyondblue) the senior football and netball teams both competed for a Pride Cup with a Pride Medal awarded to the best player of each game. A rainbow – the international symbol of gay pride – was painted over the 50 metre line on the football ground and a rainbow flag flew over the netball court. Both matches were preceded with speeches, the national anthem sung by Bonnie Anderson (Australia’s Got Talent winner) and a minute silence led by a local Uniting Church Minister.
Podcasts of the inaugural Pride Cup luncheon speeches as well a broadcast about Pride Cup for The Wire is available on the JOY 94.9 website.
The event received significant local and national media attention, including coverage on nightly TV news and a feature on Channel 7’s ‘Game Day’. Fairfax’s The Sunday Age ran articles before and after the event including an online photo gallery. Local radio station 3MDR won two Community Broadcasting Association Awards for their coverage of the event.
2015 Pride Cup
In 2015, Warburton Millgrove played 2014 champions Yarra Glen for the 2015 Pride Cup with the event taking a focus on asking footy fans to join the battle to stop homophobia in the stands.
Jeff Kennett, founder and Chairman of beyondblue led the Pride Cup luncheon. The luncheon featured a panel discussion moderated by Joy 94.9’s Dean Beck with Matt Finnis (St Kilda Football Club), Dr Pippa Grange (AFL Players Association), Sean Towner (PEGS Senior Football Captain and beyondblue ambassador) and Ellie McLean (Hume City Broncos and Craigieburn Basketball Club).
Joy94.9 conducted an outside broadcast from Pride Cup. A recording of the broadcast, including the luncheon, is available in four parts:
2016 Pride Cup
In 2016, Kinglake played Yarra Glen in the Pride Cup match with Yarra Glen retaining the cup for the third year in a row.
This year, the Pride Cup focused on asking sporting codes at every level to take on the challenge of diversity and inclusion in sport. The match day included a luncheon on diversity inclusion for junior club coaches, hosted by with speakers including Victoria’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Ro Allen, and openly gay Channel 9 News Presenter Peter Hitchener.
In 2016, the Pride Club influence spread to the AFL, which held it’s first Pride Game between St Kilda and Sydney at Etihad Stadium.
Training and education
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) ran education sessions with both teams in the weeks leading up to the event on issues of homophobia and LGBTI inclusion in sport.
VicHealth Promotion Award
The Pride Cup won a 2015 VicHealth Promotion Award for Building Health Through Sport for its work in tackling diversity and inclusion in sport.