THE first-ever “Pride Match” held by AFL on Sunday saw the Sydney Swans defeat Fremantle Dockers 65 to 56.
Watched on by more than 4000 people at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney’s inner-west, the pre-season match was celebrated with rainbow colours on the 50m arc, the goal pads and the umpires’ flags.
In another first for AFL, the game began with a guard of honour formed by female Aussie Rules football players wearing rainbow singlets from the recent Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
There was also a poster set up among the crowd that read “AFL says no to homophobia”.
Sunday’s match comes about after the Pride Cup that was staged in the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League last year between Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction.
Initiated by Yarra Glen coach Dean de Munk and assistant coach Sam Hills, one of the aims of the match was to show support for local gay footballer Jason Ball.
While the AFL has held matches to celebrate racial diversity and Indigenous players, Sunday’s Pride match between the Swans and Dockers was the first time an official AFL game was dedicated to celebrating sexual diversity and equality.
Meanwhile, St Kilda Saints’ ambition to host the first pride game in a home-and-away season is also building momentum, with a member of the club’s executive reportedly attending Sunday’s Swans-Dockers clash on “a research mission”.
According to the official AFL website, the Saints have been working for the past six months on a proposal to host the first pride match for premiership points. Team members also took part in this year’s Pride March Victoria which was held in Melbourne’s St Kilda neighbourhood.
In 2014, AFL was one of the five major Australian sporting codes to sign on to the Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework, which was initiated and steered by organisers of the Bingham Cup Sydney gay rugby world cup tournament.