Women will take to the soccer pitch as part of the Justin Fashanu Cup later this month.
The cup — now in its third year — commemorates English soccer star Justin Fashanu who in 1990 was the first footballer to publicly come out. He was vilified by the British press, and took his own life in 1998.
A friendly women’s match between gay women from the Melbourne Rovers and the Yarra Jets will take place before the boys hit the field to battle it out for the cup.
The women’s match will kick off the cup day at noon, Saturday, October 22 at the Yarra Jets home ground, Quarries Park at Clifton Hill.
At 1pm, interstate rivals the Melbourne Rovers (men’s team) and the Sydney Rangers will vie for Australian gay soccer’s highest honour.
Yarra Jets secretary Nick Petroulias said the club was proud to host the cup.
“Clubs need to get the Fashanu Cup,” Petroulias said. “We hope it keeps growing every year.”
Petroulias said the Yarra Jets is an inclusive club but when it comes to the Justin Fashanu Cup, the Jets’ loyalty lies with the locals.
“We formed as a club a few years ago to offer everyone a chance to play football,” Petroulias said.
“Sports like football unite people and its future is about inclusion.
“But let’s hope Melbourne gives Sydney a whipping.”
Melbourne Rovers president Heath Wilson said the Rovers are looking to repeat last year’s win, but said overall the cup aims to show that homophobia is not welcome in sport.
“The Justin Fashanu Cup is important in showing young gay people that football can be for them too,” he said.
Adelaide United’s new recruit Evgeniy Levchenko told The Adelaide Advertiser in August he believed gay soccer players should not fear coming out and was saddened by Fashanu’s death.
The Melbourne LGBTI community is being encouraged to support the match.
INFO: Visit the Melbourne Rovers on Facebook or www.melbourneroverssc.org.au