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Stanbury praises Reds’ inclusive culture ahead of Pride Game 

Emma Stanbury

Adelaide United’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment is something Emma Stanbury has noticed in her short time at the club.

The Reds midfielder joined ahead of the Liberty A-League 2021/22 season and believes the Pride Game initiative – a celebration of the LGBTI+ community and promotion of inclusivity – is another example of this.

Adelaide will become the inaugural A-Leagues club and first professional football team to host a Pride Game in Australia on Saturday.

Adrian Stenta’s team begin proceedings against Melbourne Victory, while Carl Veart’s outfit take on Central Coast Mariners to complete the double header.

As a member of the LGBTI+ community, Stanbury said the event will be a momentous occasion in the sport.

“I think it’s obviously a massive thing to happen and it’s really positive and very inclusive,” Stanbury said.

“It’s something that I didn’t really get to see growing up.

“I’m one of the older ones in the team and I started playing football twenty years ago, and this wasn’t even a topic.

“It’s great to see we are in a time now where we are a club that is uniting together to show they stand for acceptance and inclusivity.

She added: “I hope in another five, ten, fifteen years we won’t have to have pride games or rounds – because who you are will just be who you are and the world won’t blink twice at it. 

“The only way to get there is by doing brave and fearless moments like this pride game – it allows opportunity for conversation, education and openness which in return makes room for compassion, love and understanding.”

The 30-year-old felt seeing the Pride Game concept come to fruition is a testament of the strong culture within the club.

“Football is amazing and us players do as much as we can for the Club to cheer up the fans,” she said.

“But I think it says a lot about the people that are working behind the scenes, the administration staff, the media team, it just shows they’re trying to make a change that we all want to see in this world.

“It definitely gives you a lot more to play for, for the badge when you know you’ve got good people behind you and you want to make them proud, so it’s awesome to see.”

In December last year on an episode on the club’s ‘The Pitch Podcast’, Stanbury spontaneously revealed she has autism.

Her brave decision to publicly discuss her neurodevelopmental disorder was further indicative of the comfortable environment created within the club. 

She said since being in Adelaide, she has had a strong support network.

“I did speak about the autism at the beginning and when that happened I was given quite a supportive response,” she said.

“I’ve got someone like Kosta (Jaric) (Liberty A-League Women video analyst) that goes above and beyond to support me especially during training sessions.

“I guess it’s the support staff around that I haven’t had at other clubs before.

“… There’s Vito (Basile) as well who’s Head of Football and he catches up for coffee with me, check in on how I’m coping and all those kind of things.

“So there’s definitely people that go above and beyond and offer their help without expecting anything in return.

“It’s hard to find those kind of people, but we find it here at Adelaide United which is quite special.”

On the pitch, Adelaide are on the verge of creating history.

A win over Victory would secure a maiden finals appearance since the competition’s inception in 2008.

“I think it is a chance for us to make history,” she said.

“A win this weekend would be fantastic, but we’ve got two big games and both games need to be wins.

“We do have the likes of Perth Glory knocking on the front door, and if we really want to stake our claim and make a good run in the finals, we need to be winning these last two games and say ‘hey we’re here’.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of and I’m really looking forward to especially having a big game as part of Pride Game as well, so it will give us even more to play for.”