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Werribee and Eastern Warriors hosted the 2024 Pride Round for the Women’s 35s competition on Saturday 15 June. With celebrations and connections, the events promoted inclusivity of the local LGBTQI+ community. This Round 6 is an important part of the fixture for the women’s teams, held continuously since the inaugural Women’s 35s Pride Match was played between Werribee and Williamstown in 2019.

Werribee also commemorated club leader John Crennan, who passed away last year. JC had an integral role in that first ever Pride Cup, and was a talented administrator and supporter of women’s football.

Pride Round is important as a way to understand our environment, and ways to become a more inclusive community; 80% of Australians have experienced or witnessed LGBTQI+ discrimination in sport. For many Australians, sporting clubs are the heart and soul of their community, acting as a key tool for social connection and physical activity. The AFLVM football community wants to celebrate that enjoyment and the benefits of recreational sport, and recognise that by being inclusive, we can get the best out of ourselves. Pride Round is an opportunity to reflect on improved inclusive practices within clubs on issues on issues of diversity more broadly.

For the 2024 Pride Round, the teams proudly wore dedicated Pride guernseys, prepared the ovals with the Inclusion Flag colours, and prepared footy merchandise and activities to give the community the opportunity to get on board with the Pride Cup.

The Round also held some very special individual moments, which included Box Hill North’s Captain Mich Crupi celebrating her 50th game with a strong on field performance in front of friends and family cheering on the sidelines. In Werribee, Nicky Porter celebrated her 100th game, with family and friends from her career throughout the state joining her for the side’s big win against last year’s premiers Darebin Falcons. Over in Springvale, coach Ki Ryan was joined by a national television crew for her pioneering role and participation with the national ‘She Can Coach’ program. Port Melbourne Colts celebrated with an Auslan rendition of their club song. More about Ki’s story can be seen by following this link.

Whole of Competition Pride Round 2024 means that the nine clubs are intentionally reflecting on inclusion and diversity and how to create those opportunities to play sport in an inclusive, encouraging, supportive and safe environment. The Pride Cup is an initiative which aims to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or intersex status and to promote full and free participation in sport. Every year, attendance at the Pride Round is growing, and the community is really excited to bring their families down to be a part of the day.

Since 2018, the Women’s 35s Competition fixture has featured more than 300 older athletes taking the field to play Australian Rules Football. The competition is especially welcoming of people new to football, with innovative, flexible and social strategies across the clubs. Players can join both traditional 18-a-side and smaller side non-contact matches. Click this link for more information on the Women’s 35s competition.