Image courtesy Jason Ball Facebook
Australian Football League Women’s teams the Western Bulldogs and Carlton will make history on February 23, when they pull on special pride jerseys for the inaugural AFL Women’s #PrideGame.
Announced on Wednesday, the Pride Game was initiated by the Western Bulldogs, who invited Carlton to join the celebration.
“We thought dedicating an AFLW match day to gender diversity, inclusiveness and the feats of our women’s players would be a great celebration,” said Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains.
“The Pride Game is about inclusiveness, understanding and celebrating gender diversity and supporting the LGBTIQ community, but it’s also about celebrating the challenges these women have overcome to create the thriving AFLW competition which you see today.”
In 2016, the AFL made history with the world’s first LGBT pride match for a professional sporting competition, and they made history again last year ,with the inaugural season of Australian women’s professional football.
Carlton's inclusion in the Pride Game has been heavily criticised due to the club's failure to support the Yes vote during last year's same-sex marriage postal survey. Whilst the AFL declared it's support for the Yes campaign, Carlton issued a statement that appeared to fence sit on the issue and the club declined to campaign for marriage equality.
Openly gay Carlton skipper, Brianna Davey, said at the Pride Game announcement that she is thrilled to share the Pride Game with her partner, Carlton midfielder Tilly Lucas-Rodd.
"Running out with your teammates is obviously always fantastic and something you wait for every weekend, but to do that with someone you love, that's something not many people get to experience."
Openly gay Bulldogs defender, Hannah Scott, spoke on Wednesday about the importance of supporting the LGBT community and said it felt "overwhelming" to have the Bulldogs players support the Pride Game.
"We had a massive breakthrough with marriage equality, but we can't stop there, we have to keep pushing. There's just so much people don't know. We're in the public eye, what better thing to do than help young people come out and be proud of who they are," she said.
“What people don’t understand is that people that are out, everything that they’ve gone through to get to that point. You lose relationships with family members, you lose friendships, it’s a really tough time.”
“There’s so many people out there that struggle through this every single day and it affects not just the person, but the family, the friend, it affects everything.”
“I’m very, very happy to be a part of something like this and I couldn’t be prouder to be a Bulldog.”
Rainbow radio station JOY 94.9 FM will provide live coverage of the game, and there will be activities for fans leading up to the big event, including the unveiling of the specially designed Pride Jersey.