Hockey players from around Australia have wore rainbow socks and wristbands last Friday to mark the first ever ‘Fair go, sport!’ day.

Thirty-six teams across the nation have backed the initiative, aimed at raising awareness for sexual and gender diversity in the code.

It has been endorsed by the Australian Women’s Hockey Masters Championship, running until October 6 in Melbourne.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said it was fantastic to see so many clubs getting behind Fair go, sport!

“By wearing the Fair go, sport! rainbow socks and wristbands, each team is saying that this is a safe place and a player’s sexuality is not a cause for comment,” she said.

“Through creating a supportive and welcoming environment, Hockey Victoria has put out the welcome mat to all players. Everyone, regardless of who they are, can feel safe enough to participate in sport without facing discrimination.”

Hockey Victoria CEO Ben Hartung told the Star Observer the tournament’s endorsement of the Fair go, sport! project was extremely significant.

“This is a national Australian championships, so there’s approximately 700 players, coaches and officials involved in this event,” he said.

“It shows the commitment that we have in continuing the messaging around Fair go, sport!”

He said any female hockey players who had not already heard about the project would walk away from the tournament better informed about it and hopefully spread the word.

Earlier this year, Hockey Victoria held a Fair go, sport! round involving 650 teams.

Team captains wore rainbow socks while the rest of the team wore rainbow wristbands and helped share the message of a more inclusive sporting atmosphere.

“As far as the information that has gone out to our network and the comments that we are hearing back is that people are certainly aware of it,” he said.

“We’ve had some positive comments back from people who have said over the last two years, they’ve never felt more included in a sporting environment.”

It’s been more than two years since the project began and the commission is now looking to expand it out to other sporting codes following its success with Victorian hockey clubs.

Toohey said she was optimistic the model would be replicated in other states and territories in Australia.

She said the commission was working with Sport and Recreation Victoria and VicHealth to extend its reach to other Victorian State sporting associations.

“Many sports believe they don’t have a problem because no-one ever reveals there’s a problem,” she said.

“Yet research tells us almost four out of five GLBTI people who play mainstream sport have not revealed their sexual or gender identity to their team mates.”

The VEOHRC is the leading force behind Fair go, sport! with Hockey Victoria, Hockey Australia and the Australian Sports Commission.

The project began in 2010 and has been engaging all levels of hockey clubs about homophobia and transphobia in sports.

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