The AFL’s commitment to be being a more inclusive sport will be strengthened this weekend as football fields, guernseys, socks and flags turn rainbow for the annual NAB AFLW competition's Pride Round.
Held from October 14-16, Round 8 marks the third occasion the NAB AFLW competition will hold a dedicated Pride Round which aims to promote and support diversity and inclusion of LGBTQI+ communities and families, and acknowledges the AFL’s journey to being a more inclusive sport.
This season, the round will also acknowledge the role of allies in supporting inclusivity, visibility, and awareness of LGBTQI+ people within the sport and creating a safe environment where everyone feels welcomed and celebrated.
For the first time, all 18 AFLW clubs will wear specially designed Pride Round guernseys, with Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney Swans joining the celebrations in their inaugural year in the competition.
As part of the dedicated round, all AFL Field and Boundary umpires will wear rainbow-coloured sweatbands, while Goal umpires will exchange their traditional white flags for Progress Flags to acknowledge trans-visibility and people of colour.
SGround signage will also be updated to celebrate the round with the NAB logo adopting a rainbow theme, while the 50-metre arcs will also be painted rainbow for the occasion.
Off the field, the AFL continues to work on ways to be more inclusive through its ongoing partnership with not-for-profit organisation Pride In Sport and its support of the National Gallery of Victoria’s recent Queer Exhibition.
In addition, the AFL has established and inaugural Pride and Allies Committee for AFL staff and delivered LGBTQI+ education sessions for its staff and all 18 AFLW Clubs alongside Pride Cup, Proud 2 Play and Pride In Sport.
AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch said Pride Round was one of the most important rounds on the AFLW calendar.
“Pride Round represents more than just a rainbow on the field. It stands for inclusivity, belonging, representation, and acknowledges people from LGBTQI+ communities and their contributions to our game and seeks to signal that we want all people to feel welcome in our game, as players, fans, members and officials,” Ms Hosch said.
“Having representation matters. One of the strengths of the NAB AFLW competition is that many players, coaches and members from the wider football industry are proud to embrace their identities and are open to share this with the league and its fans. The impact that this has allows people to connect with the game on a deeper level and be inspired by people who they can identify with.
“The AFL is on a journey to being more inclusive and continues to actively consult and build an understanding of what it means to be a sport for all. Having dedicated rounds where we can come together to celebrate diversity is important and we know this because we receive feedback about how much this means to those in rainbow communities.”
Round 8 will see a number of action-packed games played across the country, including a double-header at IKON Park on Saturday between Essendon and Sydney Swans followed by Geelong Cats and West Coast Eagles, while fans from regional Victoria will have the opportunity to watch the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda go head-to-head at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium on Sunday.
AFL General Manager Womens Football Nicole Livingstone said Pride Round provided another opportunity for fans to embrace inclusion.
“Pride Round is always a wonderful celebration of inclusivity and belonging, so I’d encourage all football fans, allies, and people from LGBTQI+ communities to come along and be part of the festivities,” Ms Livingstone said.
“Whilst this is the third occasion we have formally celebrated Pride Round across the NAB AFLW competition, I’d like to acknowledge the years of work done by the trailblazers of our game to create inclusivity and awareness for the LGBTQI+ community.”
Rachel Slade, NAB Group Executive of Personal Banking said, “NAB is proud to support the LGBTQI+ community in every aspect of this great game. This is an exciting time for the pride movement but momentum isn’t a given so I really encourage everyone to cheer loudly and get behind the NAB AFLW Pride Round.”
Pride Round is one of three dedicated rounds celebrated across Season Seven of the NAB AFLW Competition, alongside AFLW Indigenous Round and Toyota Good For Footy Round.
For more information, fixture details and ticketing visit womens.afl or catch all the football action on the Seven Network, 7Plus, Foxtel, Kayo and the Official AFLW App.