The Geelong Football Club is celebrating Pride and inclusion ahead of the second AFL Women’s Pride Round.
Cats captains Meghan McDonald and Joel Selwood were joined by club chief executive officer Steve Hocking to raise the Rainbow Flag at GMHBA Stadium ahead of the round, which celebrates inclusiveness in football.
The Cats’ AFLW team will again don the Pride guernsey they first wore in last year’s inaugural Pride Round, with a rainbow forming one of the hoops, and the Transgender Flag on the shoulders.
“Pride Round is an exciting part of AFLW and has been from the beginning,” McDonald said.
“To our AFLW team, we’re so happy to be a diverse group and to make sure inclusivity is a focus for the entire club, so it’s so wonderful that we can celebrate and be part of the round, and that we can pull on the jumper again and raise the flag today.”
McDonald, who was part of the working group that designed the guernsey last season, said seeing the LGBTIQ+ community integrated within the traditional Hoops design had been integral in creating the guernsey.
“The focus of the design was to make sure that the rainbows would be included within the Hoops,” she said.
“We spoke to our Pride Supporter Group, and I think they were really passionate about looking like the Rainbow was part of our jumper, and it had always been there.
“That’s such a significant part of the design and why it was designed that way. To think that such established clubs and communities are now really welcoming – and not only welcoming, celebrating everyone – I think it is really important to show the LGBTIQ community feels about the sport of AFL and clubs like this, that they’re included and part of the design, and celebrated.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Selwood, who lauded the Cats’ AFLW players as leaders in inclusion in the club and beyond.
“They’ve done a great job with the jumper – obviously, we’re really strong at the footy club that we have a heritage overlay of what we want to do with the Hoops, but also to include the rainbow colours where we can is really important,” he said.
“We just encourage everyone to come along (to the game). We encourage everyone to be a part of this footy club. We’re really proud of the Pride Group we’ve got as members.”
Selwood said players were eager to continue seeking opportunities to make the club more inclusive.
McDonald and Hocking both highlighted the importance of initiatives like Pride Round to help more communities feel welcomed and able to participate in sports.
“I think it’s more important for community – that sense of inclusion, I think, is the most significant thing for us,” Hocking said.
“Just to be part of it, and to be a safe place for the community.
“One of the things, hopefully, we’re able to do on Friday night is make it an inclusive environment and an inclusive game.
“I think there’s roughly 11 per cent in the Australian population that fit into that (LGBTIQ+) community. We’ve just got to do our piece, and that’s what we’ll be doing on Friday night.”
The Cats host the Magpies this Friday night at GMHBA Stadium for Pride Round. First bounce is at 7.10pm, with tickets available through Ticketmaster from Tuesday.