Bushrangers Basketball Victoria
Bushrangers Basketball Victoria

Bushrangers Basketball are Melbourne’s first LGBTQI basketball club.

They began their journey as a group of players from the LGBTQI community, who grew up feeling like they couldn’t truly be themselves in a basketball team.

The board comprises of women and non-binary with  passion for basketball and the community.

Bushrangers Basketball has two major club focuses:

  1. Community outreach and
  2. Support and protection of our players

The community outreach involves identifying and encouraging those who are currently disengaged from sporting activity (and potentially the wider community) as a result of not feeling safe to play in team sports.

Outreach Program ‘Come Out & Play’.

It is well documented that sportspeople who identify as LGBTQI are at higher risks of bullying, harassment and discrimination. In establishing ‘Come Out & Play’ they were driven by a sense of wanting to be visible to other players, who may have felt excluded or marginalised because of their sexuality or gender identity.

“You cannot be what you cannot see”.

“Growing up as a young basketballer it was depressing to see my heroes on the court sharing closet space with me. One of our first moves as a club was signing one of my former heroes, ex Olympian and Opal, Sally Gorman. Sally Gorman is now pumped to be a Bushrangers Amb-kickass-ador” a member of  ‘The Bushrangers’ say.

The focus is purely improving the mental and physical health of the LGBTIQ+ community. The feedback from those who participate is overwhelmingly positive and fuels them to work even harder to find that player, who is too afraid to ‘Come Out & Play’.

This work is necessary as they are largely focused on engaging gender diverse players. There are currently great steps being made towards increasing visibility and acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community through awesome initiatives such as Pride Cup and Proud2Play.

Bushrangers Basketball provides an ongoing and weekly outlet for inclusion and visibility at a social sporting level to support Pride tournaments or annual inclusion/diversity initiatives.

The engagement with LGBTIQ+ sporting clubs is overwhelmingly more popular and largely administered with/by/for cis gendered gay men. Whilst they are inclusive and welcoming of this demographic, they are primarily focused on outreach to those in the community who fall outside of this scope.

‘Come Out & Play’ has established new Bushrangers teams in basketball associations at Coburg, MSAC and in the future, Carlton Baths.

Bushrangers Basketball works tirelessly consulting with community groups, other sporting clubs and community experts to gain a greater appreciation and understanding for how to best support our players.

The club understands how the intersectionality of financial hardship and being a member of the LGBTIQ+ community can impede access to sport.

As a result, they have sought to identify at risk players (unemployed, students, those suffering from mental health issues) who may not be able to afford the weekly costs of playing.

These players have received game fees, assistance with payment plans and ongoing support to address this issue. Through the support of our Globe and Vic Health grants they have been able to fund a weekly training at Carlton Baths. It is imperative to them that players are not burdened with extra costs that may prevent them from playing.

The club’s expansion plan 12 months ago was to add one extra team. They have smashed this target, having grown to six teams, including one interstate club in Brisbane, one team in Auckland and two more future Melbourne teams.

They have been successful in linking players to safe spaces in the community by taking a holistic approach to player support; on and off the court. They do not look to profit from players by charging yearly or weekly training fees. They have worked hard to engage LGBTQI sponsors that will benefit the overall well-being of players and members.

For example, as a new Bushranger player you receive the following:

– 10% discount at The Fox Hotel Collingwood (Our major sponsor and club pub)

– Monthly training at Pony Club Gym and weekly training at AWF

– 10% discount on Oesteo services with Dr Dilleo at the Neighbourhood Clinic in Brunswick

– Player discount to access gym services with Carlton Baths

– Concession haircuts for all players at Captain Darling

And they are constantly engaging with new LGBTIQ+ friendly businesses who are keen to get on board to help encourage the community to ‘Come Out & Play’.

Through community grants ‘The Bushrangers’ have launched an online campaign for ‘Come Out & Play’. They have reached over 10 thousand people and averaged one genuine player enquiry every day through our website. These are players who would not have known about them without seeing them online presence.