AN AFL match aimed at shedding light on LGBTI inclusivity and tackling homophobia in sport has been announced as a new addition to the competition’s calendar.
Known as the NAB Challenge, the pride football match is also the first of its kind to be sanctioned by AFL.
AFL operations manager Mark Evans said football was a game for everyone and a game that challenged prejudice.
“The AFL is proud to be hosting this game, and in doing so we are saying to our community that we want to be part of change in Australia,” he said.
“Diversity and inclusion is essential to our game. We say ‘no matter who are, where you are from or who you love, we can all love footy’.”
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.
Jason Ball, an openly gay footballer who established the Pride Cup match last year between his local club Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction, said it was great to see this initiative now at a national level.
“[It] is a significant step forward that will help make sport and the AFL a place where everyone feels accepted no matter who they are,” he said.
To celebrate the NAB Challenge Pride match, the 50m arc, goal post pads and goal umpire flags will be decorated in rainbow colours.
NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said the match would also celebrate diversity in Australia.
“We want to use football’s reach to demonstrate our support for our people and our customers in the communities we serve, regardless of their gender diversity or sexual orientation,” he said.
The first bounce will take place at 4.10pm on Sunday, March 15 at Drummoyne Oval, Sydney.
Details and tickets: afl.com.au/nabchallenge