Central Victorian footy clubs push for LGBTQI+ inclusion to tackle rising mental illness


Mateship and inclusion.

These are two things footy offers, particularly in small towns when it comes to bringing communities together.

But a rise in mental illness among the LGBTQI+ community is leading two Central Victorian clubs and a community health service to accept the sporting codes’ faults.

Today the Kyneton and Eaglehawk football clubs are taking to the Kyneton Showground and netball courts with one thing in mind: to create a place for queer people to feel proud.

Alex Summerfield plays for Eaglehawk’s women’s football team and said she was sure there were men and women playing in Central Victorian clubs that were yet to come out as gay.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the men’s division and this is a great start,” Ms Summerfield said.

“It really does come down to some of those traditional values and morals that we’re trying to break down.

Eaglehawk’s Alex Summerfield says more needs to be done by league players to break down stigma and promote more inclusive attitudes.(

Supplied: Kyneton FNC

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Ms Summerfield said she believed women were more open to talking about sexuality and gender issues than men, and more needed to be done to break down the stigma around gender and sexual diversity.

Mistreatment at the centre of problem

The 2019 Healthy Heart of Victoria Active Living Census found that people who identified as LGBTQI+ were less likely to participate in sport and activities.

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health’s Country LGBTQI+ Inclusion Program co-ordinator Belinda Brain said the lower participation rate led to poorer health outcomes.

She said poorer health, including mental illness, was not because of a person’s gender or sexuality, but due to the discrimination and marginalisation many people in the LGBTQI+ community still faced.

After the majority of the nation voted ‘yes’ to legally allowing same-sex marriage, it paved the way for other facets of society to become more inclusive, and tackle areas where same-sex and gender-diverse people continue to feel unsafe or uncomfortable, such as on the sporting field.

It will be Central Victoria’s second Pride Cup after the nearby Castlemaine Football Netball Club held one in 2019.

Changing the game and attitudes

Kyneton Football Netball Club president Hayden Evans said holding the Pride Cup event was not just about changing traditional values and morals, it was about changing the traditional attitudes that many sporting clubs were founded on.

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Ms Summerfield said she didn’t know a team in the league that didn’t have a queer female player.

A study by Monash University found more than 80 per cent of people had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport, and 87 per cent of gay males, and 75 per cent of lesbians were completely or partially in the closet while playing youth sports.

It’s these statistics that led Kyneton and Eaglehawk to tackle the stigma.

Ms Summerfield said the Pride Cup showed there were at least two clubs in the Bendigo region where young queer people could walk in and feel welcome.

In the federal electorate of Bendigo, 82.7 per cent of people participated in the same-sex marriage vote, with the remainder not responding.

Of those who voted, 68.7 per cent approved of same-sex marriage, while 31.3 per cent disapproved of it.

Thank you for dropping in and reading this news article regarding the AFL titled “Central Victorian footy clubs push for LGBTQI+ inclusion to tackle rising mental illness”. This post was brought to you by My Local Pages Australia as part of our local and national news services.

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