This week will see the eight-year celebration of the Yarra Valley Pride Cup, marking a momentous occasion in LGBTIQ+ inclusion in community sport around Australia.
The celebrations will take place this Saturday 8 May at the Yarra Glen Football/Netball Club from 10 am, with the main Pride Cup game starting from 2 pm.
The event will include rainbow entertainment, activities, and health promotion alongside the local sporting matches.
After Yarra Glen footballer and future Young Victorian Australian of the Year Jason Ball came out as gay in 2013, teammates responded by holding a Pride Cup to show their support of not just Ball but all LGBTIQ+ fans, players, and volunteers.
Pride Cup has since become a national movement of local sporting communities working to challenge the discriminatory culture around LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport.
It has now supported over 215 community sporting clubs around Australia in hosting their own Pride events celebrating the LGBTIQ+ community, encompassing over 15,000 players.
Pride Cup has grown from a single game of Australian Rules football in regional Victoria to encompass a sporting codes including tennis, water polo, hockey, roller derby, cricket, softball, rugby league, and lawn bowls.
“Pride Cup is not just about celebrating Pride out on the sporting field,” said CEO James Lolicato.
“We work closely with clubs to provide education and tools to tackling the barriers that [LGBTIQ+] people face when it comes to participating in community sport.
“Sports clubs are looking for ways to ensure they are a safe and welcoming place for everyone, and that’s where we do our best work.”
LGBTIQ+ people are likely to experience harassment in sport and more likely to drop out of team sports, but inclusivity strategies can decrease discrimination.
Monash University research has found that 11% of men in sporting clubs with Pride Cups reported hearing homophobic language from a coach in the last fortnight, compared to 30% in other clubs.
A massive 73% of players in clubs without Pride Cups had heard homophobic language from teammates, compared with just 38% in Pride Cup clubs.
Erik Denison, co-investigator of challenging discriminatory language in sport at Monash University’s Faculty of Education, said that challenging homophobia in sport is critical.
“Australian sports are the first in the world to hold these games in community and school settings, and they’re of crucial importance,” said Denison.
“Amateur sport is where the most harm is occurring and where sports teams and governing bodies need to focus their resources.
“Whilst pervasive homophobic and sexist language is typically dismissed as harmless ‘locker room talk’, there is growing evidence that it is a precursor to violence against women and girls.
“Exposure to this language is also a key factor in negative sport experiences by girls and low rates of sport participation by [LGBTIQ+] youth and high rates of suicide and self-harm.
“There is an urgent need to develop programs and solutions to these problems to improve youth mental health, boost physical activity rates, and mitigate the negative influences of traditional gender norms.”