Pride Round is an important opportunity to celebrate diversity and inclusion across the club.
Collingwood players Caitlin Bunker, Georgia Ricardo and Demi Hallett feel extremely honoured to be a part of the round for the second year running.
Caitlin Bunker believes that pride round has the opportunity to create a safe and welcoming environment at the Pies.
"Pride round is about embracing diversity and inclusion and it demonstrates to people who watch us or support us that we are a supportive group," Bunker said.
“It shows that we are inclusive of any person, no matter where they come from or who they love. I think it signals to people that we are a safe and inclusive space."
An emerging leader at the club, Georgia Ricardo, understands the importance of the round for the LGBTQI+ community.
“Pride round will ensure that everyone feels included no matter who they identify as or who they’re with and know they can either come and play this sport, watch the sport and be included and accepted," Ricardo said.
A proud LGBTQI+ member, Demi Hallett believes that being open will allow others to be comfortable within themselves.
“Pride is being loud and proud and celebrating the person that you love and being able to feel comfortable in a space where you can proudly show whatever your sexuality," Hallett said.
Having a game dedicated to pride is important at a football club for athletes coming to the club to feel safe and included.
Bunker believes that visibility and representation is vital in a sporting environment.
“If you can’t see it then you can’t be it," Bunker said.
“Even five to ten years ago there weren’t really that many out and proud athletes that young people could look up to and I think the flow on effects of role models in our community coming out and being who they are encourages young kids to be able to do the same and believe they can play elite sport.
“Traditionally, sport has not always been seen as the most inclusive space, but with the emergence of AFLW and the VFLW competitions, so many women have come out and been out and proud about who they are and it has made the space for others to join in and be who they are too and that is what is really important."
Ricardo believes that being proud and comfortable about your sexuality has a flow on effect on others too.
“I think after how far we’ve come, there’s no need to stop. Just keep being loud and proud and put it in his people’s faces because it’s so important for it to be a big deal because it shouldn’t be hidden anymore," Ricardo said.
Hallett is confident that representation at a sporting club like Collingwood will create an inclusive space for the future.
“We are all grateful that it’s so accepted these days. Even my sisters and the young generation are so comfortable regardless of if they are straight, bi, lesbian or whatever they are. They can come into the sport knowing that they’re in a safe place where no matter what you are, you are always going to be accepted,” Hallett said.
Collingwood will take on the Western Bulldogs this Saturday at 10am at the AIA Centre.
The match can be live-streamed via vflw.tv.