St Kilda City and St Pauls Football Netball Clubs will be showing enormous leadership on Saturday 13 August when they come together to compete for the inaugural Pride Shield at Peanut Farm Reserve.
In what will be the first ever pride match within the Southern Football Netball League, the clubs and the league collectively are educating and demonstrating how sport can lead the way in creating change in our community. In a show of support for the LGBTI community, the ground’s fifty metre arcs will be rainbow coloured, players from both teams will be wearing rainbow coloured laces in their boots and the goal umpires will be waving rainbow coloured flags.
The initiative is deliberately timed to coincide with the St Kilda v Sydney Swans AFL Pride Game on Saturday evening (13 August) at Etihad Stadium.
St Kilda City Football Netball Club President Nick Porter and his committee have been one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the inaugural Pride Shield match with the aim to promote both the club and its local community as accepting and inclusive of members of the LGBTI community.
“This is a really exciting initiative to be a part of, where we want it to be known that our club and community is safe and welcoming for all,” Porter said.
“The statistics of homophobia in sport, along with the mental health impacts of homophobia are very alarming, where the LGBTI community do not feel safe at sporting events.
“We welcome everyone down to Peanut Farm Reserve on Saturday 13 August, where we will celebrate diversity and equality at our luncheon and throughout the day.”
Southern Football Netball League CEO David Cannizzo said that the league was fully behind the initiative.
“The ability for anyone to be involved within any level of sport, including the SFNL, either as a player, official or supporter, should not be affected by someone’s sexuality,” Cannizzo said.
“The league and our clubs can help raise community awareness that homophobia has an extremely serious impact on mental well-being.
“As a league, we think everyone should be safe and welcome to be themselves in our clubs. We strive to create environments where LGBTI people feel they are not just welcome, but a key part of our clubs as players, members and spectators.”
Victoria’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen, who will be speaking at the luncheon on the day along with Jason Ball, expressed her pleasure on the Pride Shield Match initiative.
“All sports have a role to play in promoting diversity and equality. I congratulate St Kilda City and St Pauls Football Netball Clubs and the Southern Football Netball League for the leadership shown in educating and creating change in the community,” Allen said.
Victoria’s Minister for Equality Martin Foley, who will also be attending the luncheon, welcomed the event.
“Equality is not negotiable, so we are working to ensure we foster an inclusive and supportive community. We are supporting LGBTI communities on and off the sports field and we welcome this celebration of inclusion and diversity by the SFNL,” Foley explained.
The Saints’ pride match opponent, St Pauls Football Netball Club, are proud to assist in raising awareness of diversity and inclusiveness.
“The club aims to be a leader in offering a safe and inclusive environment,” said St Pauls President Mike Lloyd.
“We understand suicide rates in the LGBTI community are significantly higher than the wider community and for that reason we want people to feel welcome.”