Water Polo Taking 'Pride' in the LGBTI Community

29 January, 2016

On Friday 5th February 2016 the National Water Polo League (NWPL) will host the inaugural Pride Cup.  This event aims to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion in sport and will showcase women’s and men’s elite water polo games between the Victorian Seals and the Brisbane based KFC Queensland Breakers, as well as LGBTI clubs Melbourne Surge and the Sydney Stingers, in what is being touted the 'Grudge Match'.  The NWPL will become the first national competition to host a Pride Cup in it’s main season, with the AFL soon to follow suit in 2016. The NWPL Pride Cup will become a permanent fixture from 2016. The concept for the Pride Cup came from a series of events, stemming from a conversation between the Victorian Seals, Water Polo Victoria and equality pioneer Jason Ball.  The conversation led to the realisation that there was an opportunity for Water Polo to do something to support the LGBTI community and continue to raise awareness, and build on the inclusive environment that Water Polo has created. At the Minister's event in August 2015 to announce that Melbourne would be the host for the NWPL finals in March 2016, it was also announced that the Pride Cup would run during the season. "The Pride Cup will send a clear message to the community that there is no room for discrimination in sport and that as a Victorian association we celebrate diversity, inclusion and equality" said Steve Blunt, Victorian Seals President. To help boost the profile of the event, the Victorian Seals and Melbourne Surge approached the organisers of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival knowing that it aligned well to the direction the Festival was taking.  The Pride Cup was made a Major event after the proposal was submitted, making it the first new major event since 1996. The Seals and Surge will both be taking part in the Pride March, another major event in the Midsumma calendar on Sunday 31 January. As part of gaining awareness for the Cup, there have been two campaigns:
  • 'Wear the Cap' - you can see the pictures HERE
  • 'Show your Colours' - in a push for all organisations, sports, and clubs alike to come out and support the Pride Cup wearing their colours.
wpv show your colours wpv pride cup The Pride Cup has received the full backing of the of the National Body (Water Polo Australia) and the Victorian Governments first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen has been announced as the Patron for the event. The Pride Cup has been a whole of sport approach, with clubs and the national body alike getting behind the event.  Water Polo Australia have also lead the way in becoming a member of Pride in Diversity who have been engaged by the Australian Sports Commission to look at diversity in sport in Australia. Establishing the event has not been without its challenges. Gaining awareness has been the major difficulty due to the lack of media coverage for minor sports and with it being a new event. Beyondblue has stepped in as a major sponsor but there is still time for sponsors to come on board or people can feel free to make donations to the event to help support the Cup and LGBTI community. The event will be televised on Channel 31 (free-to-air), Aurora 183 (Foxtel), and will be streamed live to the Internet.
  • Coverage will start from 6:00 pm with the swim off for the women’s games at 6:10 pm
  • The Grudge Match between the Melbourne Surge and Sydney Stingers will begin at 7:30 pm
  • The men's game will commence at 8:20 pm with trophy presentations from 9:25 pm
The event will be held at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) and tickets can be purchased from TicketMaster Vicsport would like to congratulate Water Polo Victoria, the Victorian Seals, Melbourne Surge and Water Polo Australia for their outstanding efforts in organising this event.  It is set to be a spectacular night and will make a great permanent fixture on the yearly sports calendar.

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