Izzy’s Index: Pride Cup marks monumental shift towards inclusion

Sunday’s first A-Leagues Pride Cup against Melbourne Victory is symbolic of how far we’ve come as a society.

Sunday’s first A-Leagues Pride Cup against Melbourne Victory is symbolic of how far we’ve come as a society.

But there is always more progress to be made.

I could not have imagined when I was a young girl growing up in school and football, and thinking that I needed to hide my sexuality, that I would one day be walking out as a professional with the LGBTI+ community represented on an Adelaide United playing shirt.

I’ll be beaming with sentiment, and I know the whole squad will be feeling the same way, no matter their preference of partner or anything like that.

I’m also looking forward to what Melbourne can bring to the celebration, and we are appreciative of their efforts in getting on board after we pioneered this project last year.

I was very proud that day in launching the inaugural Pride Celebration this time last year alongside my good friend, Josh Cavallo, who has been a trailblazer from a men’s sporting point of view.

As I reflect on a whirlwind couple of years in this space, I feel particularly fortunate and honoured that my career has lined up with this evolution and acceptance for such an important cause.

A movement that shouldn’t even need to be a movement.

I’ve been on record in the past detailing that I was very fortunate in my own family that I was able to come out in a safe space filled with unconditional love from them all, and I’m so grateful.

To know that some people are still not met with this reception in 2023, and they even fear for themselves to participate in this sport and many other codes, just breaks my heart and signifies that we still have a fair way to go.

The hope is that matches and occasions like these can continue to inspire and create change to the point where ‘coming out’ isn’t even a thing or an occasion or an ‘athlete’s media statement’ anymore.

Even if one person sees this happening on the weekend and we have been able to impact and change their life for the better and they feel more comfortable within themselves, then we have done our job.

It’s great to see how much has changed from when I was younger, with community events and celebrations that reach beyond football are happening on weekends.

Love is love in the same way football is football – everyone deserves safe access to both.

To their credit, the A-Leagues have undertaken training with all of the Clubs with particular focus on understanding the struggle that people in the LGBTI+ community still continue to endure.

It is so good to see the League and the Clubs on board with this learning and are more and more open to further initiatives like the Pride Cup moving forward, with a solid structure in place for further improvement.

‘Inclusion’ is the key word here, and it’s about making sure that absolutely everybody feels welcome to play and support football.

No matter their sexual preference, religion, or anything else, they should be able to play and enjoy the game safely.

We will have the rainbow playing tops on display and I look forward to seeing some of the bids for the shirts during the online auction too.

From a football side of things, this upcoming derby game has great magnitude and not only for the fantastic cause it represents.

We need the three points.

Yes, we’ve had a few weeks without games after a packed schedule, but it is the same for everybody the way the season is structured, and we’ll be looking to start on Sunday with a spring in our step.

We haven’t taken our foot off the gas in terms of our training and preparation, if anything we have ramped it up knowing our season is basically on the line.

It’s not to put extra pressure on ourselves, but the messaging has been to embrace the challenge ahead of us, to believe in our football and how we want to play.

It has been well documented – none more so than within our inner sanctum – that our end product is lacking at the moment, and good teams always find a way to get their mojo back.

Still, it’s been a joy to be around the group and the team morale has stayed at a high level throughout. We can be proud of this and do everything in our power to come home with three points on Sunday.

And I’m even more proud and honoured that my Club is at the forefront of the Pride Cup and the progression of inclusion in football worldwide.