Football Australia and Australian Professional Leagues (APL) staff took part in a six-a-side fundraising tournament in Sydney hosted by LGBTQI+ advocacy organisation Pride Football Australia (PFA) on Saturday.
The event, which coincided with tournaments in Melbourne and Brisbane, was a new adoption of the annual ‘Mardi Gras Football Tournament’, which has been running in the lead up to the Mardi Gras Parade for the last 12 years.
This year’s tournament was a fundraiser for the newest LGBTQI+ inclusive club – the Brisbane Inferno – who join the likes of Sydney Rangers FC, The Flying Bats, and the Melbourne Rovers in Australia’s community football landscape.
Football Australia and the APL combined to enter two teams into Saturday’s tournament, with Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson, Westfield Young Matildas Head Coach, Leah Blayney, APL Deputy Commissioner, Tracey Scott, and Head of Member Federation Relations and former Socceroo, Robbie Middleby, taking part alongside staff from the two organisations.
Over 130 participants featured in the tournament held at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, showcasing the sport’s diversity and inclusion.
Alongside colleagues from the APL, Football Australia were proud to participate in Saturday’s Pride Football Australia six-a-side tournament,” Johnson said.
“In the XI Principles for the future of Australian football (XI Principles) the expectation that Football Australia should always seek to promote and deliver standards of inclusivity, unity and respect is outlined.
“Saturday’s event provided our management and staff with a great opportunity to support the LGBTIQ+ football community, and while we didn’t come away with any silverware, the spirit of the event underlined how football can bring people together and play an important role in creating social cohesion and understanding.”
Westfield Young Matildas Head Coach, Leah Blayney, said: “I enjoyed pulling on the boots on Saturday in support of the annual Pride Football tournament. I believe in equality, diversity, and tackling discrimination not only in football, but in all sport. PFA Day is an important step forward in this.”
APL Deputy Commissioner, Tracey Scott, said: “The Pride Football Australia Day is about bringing football together for an issue that is vitally important to our game. The APL has the most diverse fanbase in all of Australian sport, including a significant LGBTIQ+ community, so we wanted to be part of this brilliant day. For me personally, I wanted to show leadership through actions to reinforce the importance of equality in sport and the broader community.”