Shepparton and Mooroopna football and netball clubs will battle it out at Deakin Reserve next month for the region’s inaugural Goulburn Valley League Pride Cup.
Held on Saturday, June 23 the Pride Cup celebrates diversity and inclusion in sport for the lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex communities by tackling homophobia in Australian Rules Football.
Goulburn Valley Pride secretary Damien Stevens said the sports oval had historically been a dark place for LGBTIQ+ people.
‘‘Diversity and inclusion in sports for LGBTIQ+ people is very important,’’ he said.
‘‘It has been common for many LGBTIQ+ people to be on the receiving end of homophobic language, primarily on the football field or netball court.’’
What originated as a celebration match between traditional rivals Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction in 2014 has evolved into a statewide symbol for inclusion in Australia’s favourite sport.
Pride Cup games are now held throughout the state, and were the inspiration for the ALF’s Pride Match which was initiated in 2016 and is now a key match of the season.
Mr Stevens said he was pleased to see many clubs across the state adopting a no-tolerance threshold for homophobic language.
‘‘This is a great example of leadership within the Goulburn Valley League and sends a clear message to players,’’ he said.
‘‘Sport is a place for everybody ... language on and off the football field during the game should be inclusive and supportive of diversity.’’
The Pride Cup will see two GVL teams, Shepparton Football Netball Club and Mooroopna Football Netball Club, battle it out for the coveted title.
SFNC president Will Phillips said it was a great opportunity for his club to be involved.
‘‘SFNC has a long and proud heritage and if our leadership can promote the LGBTIQ+ communities’ inclusion in our sport, then we will be supportive at all levels,’’ he said.
‘‘The event itself will be a festival of football, netball and fun and we look forward to seeing as many people as possible to celebrate diversity and inclusion in sport.’’
The Shepparton Pride Cup will be held at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton on June 23. Admission into the ground is $12 for adults, $6 for concession, and free for children under the age of 12; $2 from every ticket sold will be donated to GV Pride.