"As a kid growing up in country Victoria, I loved playing footy more than anything. But, as I got older, the football club also felt like the one place I’d never be accepted for who I was. Words like faggot, poofter and homo were considered “part of the game”, whether coming from over the fence, from the opposition, or even my own teammates.
It took me more than 10 years to finally come out to my club. When I did, not only did my teammates stand by my side, but together, we created the first Pride Cup.
We turned one of our home games into a celebration of diversity and inclusion, so that every supporter, official and player knew that they didn’t have to choose between being themselves, and the game that they love.
We painted our 50m line rainbow, wore rainbow jumpers and presented the Pride Cup to the winning team. Alongside, we designed and delivered the first-ever education program for players and coaches to help them challenge homophobia, so that more LGBTI people can access the health and wellbeing benefits of community sport.
5 years after the first Pride Cup, we’re now supporting 11 of these events annually across Victoria. As the heart of many regional communities, sporting clubs have the power to create ripple effects and transform attitudes and no other event has put LGBTI people and their stories on the front pages of regional papers quite like the Pride Cup.
Now, more towns across Australia are ready for Pride Cup, and we’re ready to bring it to them!
To go from 11 to 150 Pride Cups annually in 3 years, we’ll create a national support program to help clubs develop and execute their own Pride Cup. Through this program, we’ll engage 30,000 players, 150,000 fans and up to a million people through regional and national media.
To make this happen, I’ve engaged an advisory board with former AFL players, a former AFL Commissioner, corporate heavyweights, philanthropic leaders, and Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and most excitingly, hired a co-founder.
Already the founder of LGBTI youth sport organisation, Proud2Play, James Lolicato brings incredible expertise and experience to our team. He’s also the 2017 Australian Community Leader of the Year and a nominee for the 2018 Victorian Young Achiever Award!
With James and the advisory board in place, momentum is building. In the weeks since launching our crowdfunder, I’ve heard from football clubs in Stawell, Mornington, Daylesford, Colac and Ballarat - all ready to bring the Pride Cup to their communities.
As a young kid struggling to come to terms with my sexuality in a country town, this is a game changer that I’d never imagined would one day become a reality.
We have the proven model, we have the demand, we have the goodwill of the community and we have the A team.
Now all we need is you. Will you join us?"
Jason Ball, Founder Pride Cup
Take a look at Pride Cup Australia's campaign page to learn more about their inspiring work around inclusion in sport: