Gay-friendly games bridge sports' shameful boundary

THE words are thoughtlessly hurled from the sidelines in the spur in the moment.

South West TAFE’s diploma of community services students Mary Bourke (left) and Lisa Anders and teacher Wendy Lever are organising “LGBT Pride” football and netball matches for this weekend.

South West TAFE’s diploma of community services students Mary Bourke (left) and Lisa Anders and teacher Wendy Lever are organising “LGBT Pride” football and netball matches for this weekend.

But the impact can be long lasting. 

Sport has emerged as one of the biggest issues facing homophobia this year, both on the field and over the boundary line.

Whether a casual slur yelled during a match or the pressure same-sex players face to stay hidden, the issue has been making headlines. Now a group of South West TAFE students have organised the region’s first gay-friendly football and netball matches to combat the prejudice that still exists. 

“The topic of homosexuality in sporting clubs is a bit of a taboo topic, and it really shouldn’t be,” TAFE student Mary Bourke said. 

Students in the diploma of community services course have organised “Rainbow Matches” at 2.20pm tomorrow at Mortlake between the Deakin Sharks and Allansford.

Players will wear rainbow armbands in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“It goes beyond the classroom. It’s something we’re going to pitch to the league and hope they can continue on after we finish up this year,” Ms Bourke said. 

Diploma teacher Wendy Levers said students had focused on social injustice in the community as part of an assignment project. 

“There’s a lot of the gay slurs used on the football field and people don’t recognise that it is homophobic. It’s a just a bit of education in football,” Ms Levers said. 

Sharks netballer and TAFE student Lisa Anders said the sidelines were the most concerning place for intolerance. 

“I’ve never come across it in what I do but on the sidelines listening to supporters that’s where I see it the most. It’s not just on the field it’s off the field as well where we’re aiming,” she said.

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