THE Victorian Seals Water Polo Club recently announced its plan to hold an inaugural National Water Polo League (NWPL) Pride Cup next year.

The event will mark the first time an Australian sporting code has run an official Pride Round as part of its national premiership fixture.

[showads ad=MREC]The Victorian Seals’ liaison officer Julian Direen said more plans were underway to promote diversity and the inclusion of the LGBTI community in water polo.

“The Pride Cup Match is just one part of the initiative,” he told the Star Observer.

“We will also be looking to run educational programs within the league for players, and then beyond to Club coaches, to increase awareness around discrimination in sport.”

The Pride Cup is a joint initiative between The Victorian Seals and Melbourne Surge, Victoria’s only LGBTI water polo club.

Melbourne Surge currently has around 70 competitive and social members, with the club fielding three competitive teams in Victoria’s State League.

Scheduled during the annual Midsumma Festival in February, the event will showcase a Grudge Match between Melbourne Surge and the Sydney Stingers, the only two LGBTI water polo clubs in Australia.

Both have previously represented their cities in competitions such as the World Out Games and the International Federation of Gay Games.

Melbourne Surge president Ash McMaster believes the cup will mean a lot for the LGBTI community.

“This is a positive step for equality in sport and the wider community,” he said.

“Our club is thankful to have this opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion in water polo, and all other sporting codes.”

Direen added that the Victorian Seals have been providing coaching panel expertise to Melbourne Surge as part of the engagement.

“It aims to further bridge the historical divide which has existed between Melbourne Surge in the league and the broader water polo community in the state of Victoria,” he said.

The Pride Cup will feature a National League game between the Victorian Seals and the Brisbane-based KFC Breakers, part of the national competition for both men’s and women’s teams.

Victorian Seals president Steve Blunt said it was important to recognise the importance of ending discrimination in sport.

“We see that we can play an important role in the community to promote sport as a healthy environment free from discrimination of any kind,” he said.

The cup will be held during the evening, and will include the match, entertainment and fireworks.

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