Now in its third year, Pride Cup has been embraced by the AFL.

Now in its third year, Pride Cup – played as part of the AFL Yarra Ranges league – celebrates diversity and inclusion in sport for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI).

The event has been embraced by teams, the local community and the AFL.

This year, the organisers are calling on Australian sporting codes at every level to take on the challenge of diversity and inclusion in sport.

The strongest progress can be seen in the AFL, says Pride Cup’s founder Jason Ball. “Pride Cup has made strong progress in netball and the AFL, has inspired a national Pride Cup match between St. Kilda and Sydney Swans, as well as events in other leagues… but more needs to be done at every level.”

“A lack of diversity in sport has a severe impact on young Australians, and sees them self-select themselves out of the wonderful range of sports that are available in our communities," Ball continues. "The other negative of this equation is that Australian sports end up missing out on great talent.”

This year, Kinglake take on the 2015 Pride Cup Champions Yarra Glen at the Yarra Glen Recreation Reserve – with the ground featuring a rainbow 50m line.

Pre-match diversity and inclusion training will be provided to players from both teams by The Rainbow Network, a supporter of Pride Cup.

The message of inclusion will be spread further at a Pride Cup luncheon for junior league coaches. Speakers will include Victoria’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Rowena Allen, and openly-gay Channel 9 News Presenter Peter Hitchener.

Commissioner Allen highlights that sporting clubs still represent a major barrier for many people who identify as LGBTI.

“There are many young Victorians who are missing out on the benefits that sport can provide because of their sexuality or gender. We know that the attitudes of the Victorian community have changed, and as a community we are more supportive of LGBTI people. I would encourage anyone who runs a sporting club to access some of the great materials, training and education that will help them understand some of the issues that young people face.”

Looking towards the future, Ball says, “As we go into the Rio Olympics, it is a perfect time for anyone who runs a sporting club or code to think about how they are making their sport inclusive for everyone.”

Following Pride Cup, all clubs in the AFL Yarra Ranges league will send two champions for diversity and inclusion training.

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