The Southern Football Netball League has endorsed its position to embrace diversity and equality, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities, as part of its social charter at its Season Launch held at Hurlingham Park tonight.
The move comes following the success of the inaugural Pride Shield match between St Kilda City and St Pauls Football Netball Clubs in August 2016.
St Kilda City and St Pauls showed strong leadership when they came together to compete for the Pride Shield. Through this pride themed match, they maximised the opportunity to educate and demonstrate how sport can lead the way in creating change in our community.
League CEO David Cannizzo explained to over 110 guests that the SFNL and clubs have worked hard on instigating positive cultural change in recent times.
“In what has been an inclusive focussed mantra over the last five years, particularly with netball, women’s football and the beyondblue partnership, there is now an increased focus on celebrating diversity and equality,” Cannizzo said.
“This is another step forward in the SFNL’s continuing aim to positively change the sporting culture and make community sport more inclusive for all.
“The SFNL has a clear reason for formalising this position, as the statistics of homophobia in sport, along with the mental health impacts of homophobia, are extremely alarming.”
The SFNL will be facilitating a League-wide themed Pride Round for the very first time this year on Saturday August 12. It is believed that the SFNL will be the first community Australian Rules football and netball league in the country to officially have a league-wide themed round to celebrate pride.
The 2017 SFNL Pride Round will see the marquee Pride Shield match played between Division 1 Senior rivals in St Kilda City and St Pauls, who launched the initiative last year. SFNL clubs will also be welcome to participate in the Pride Round to celebrate diversity and equality.
Cannizzo shared that collectively the community environment can be truly inclusive.
“The SFNL strongly believes that the ability for anyone to be involved within any level of sport, either as a player, official or supporter, should not be affected by someone’s sexuality. Collectively, we can help raise community awareness that homophobia can have an extremely serious impact on a person’s mental well-being,” Cannizzo explained.
“Everyone should be safe and welcome to be themselves in our clubs, and the SFNL strives to create environments where members of the LGBTI community feel they are not just welcome, but play key roles in our clubs as players, members, officials and spectators.”