Melbourne University has a proudly LGBTIQ-Friendly Good Sports Club
When it comes to sports, there are few that inspire more devotion and passion on a global scale than soccer. From Antarctica to Zambia, there are soccer teams with supporters that follow a team during the World Cup, soccer season, or for life. Soccer is a truly international and unifying sport because of it’s accessibility and reach. A recent Neilson survey confirms four in every ten people are soccer fans. According to USA Today, the Marshall Islands is the only nation on the planet without a national soccer team, and even they have a number of active local soccer teams. All you need is a ball. And during times of conflict, a soccer team can be a representation of a nation’s identity, and hope, something for soccer fans to believe in. But how important is what a soccer team believes in and represents? One Melbourne-based LGBTIQ-Friendly Good Sports soccer club has shown it can be a powerful mode of influence and change. Meet Melbourne University Soccer Club.
The rewards and realities of being a LGBTIQ-friendly sports club
Anna Leonedas, who’s represented Melbourne University Soccer Club for five years as a player and now as Club Vice President, says her club has become so popular, they are currently at membership capacity. “Over the past few seasons we’ve unfortunately had to direct a number of players to other local clubs because we simply can’t fit any more players in our 18 teams.” She believes her club’s inclusive culture is what makes it great. “We’re a really positive and welcoming club”, Anna says. “There’s no cliques.”
A soccer club with a proud, inclusive history of inclusivity
Melbourne University Soccer Club have a proud, inclusive heritage. They have identified as an LGBTIQ-friendly sports club for several years. They initially partnered with Fair-go Sports, a past initiative of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission. The club also organises an annual pride round to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion. Out on the Fields, an international study conducted in 2015, found 80 percent of Australians involved in sport witnessed homophobia and 75 per cent believed an openly gay person would not be safe as a spectator at a sporting event.1 So the club’s focus on inclusion is a point of pride and purpose. The club regularly showcases their status and reputation as an LGBTIQ-friendly club on social media and public events.
Supporting soccer players on and off the field
Mental health is also a key focus of Melbourne University Soccer Club culture. Anna jokingly admits that soccer players spend more time with their coach and teammates than their friends and family. “And when you come to the club, you come as your whole self.” The club encourages players to talk openly, priding itself on being a place where your team can act as a support network. The club also runs an annual mental health awareness round to raise money for SPOTaTHON,a local initiative which educates young people around mental health issues and offers support to those who need it.
A soccer club for the common good
For Melbourne University Soccer Club, being an inclusive sports organisation is for the good of many things. It benefits Australian sporting club culture, the wider community, and the club itself. By embracing the opportunity to set an example for the community and fellow soccer organisations, they have grown. Building a solid club reputation with ever-increasing popularity amongst supporters and prospective players alike.