A Gippsland Tennis Association has recently emulated some of the important work that the local football/netball community has been doing in regards to creating more inclusive club environments. After becoming inspired by the Gippsland Pride Cup, an annual event within the North Gippsland Football Netball League calendar which celebrates diversity and inclusion in sport, Traralgon Tennis Association Manager Susie Grumley started to think about how she could bring something similar to the local tennis community.
Suzie attended the 2018 Pride Cup forum, which was held in Traralgon, and after hearing the stories from LGBTIQ people and their families, she started to think about how the Traralgon Tennis Association could also assist in creating more inclusive sporting environments. “A lot of LGBTIQ people are faced with exclusion and bullying in their everyday life and this is even greater on the sporting field” states Suzie. “I believe that all members of our community should be able to feel confident and happy to participate in sport at any level without feeling that they will be excluded or isolated.”
With the support of GippSport, Latrobe City Council, AGL Loy Yang, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Tennis Victoria and Tennis Australia, the Traralgon Tennis Association recently made history by hosting the first “Pride in Tennis” event to be held in Gippsland. The event was divided into 2 parts – an education session, which was open up to the community, followed by a day of celebration during the Traralgon Challenger tournament.
The aim of the education session, which featured Proud 2 Play and Pride Cup Australia ambassadors and other guest speakers, was to educate the community about diversity and inclusion in sport. The session saw 60+ people in attendance, from sports such as tennis, football, netball, cricket and soccer, and included discussion around how clubs can be more inclusive regardless of the sport(s) they play.
On the Saturday following, 100+ members from the community gathered at the Traralgon Tennis Courts, where former Australian tennis star Jelena Dokic opened the inaugural ‘Pride in Tennis’ event. The day was dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community, and involved a range of panel speakers; including transgender athlete Hannah Mouncey, former Glengarry footballer Dean Sutton and Pride Cup founder Jason Ball; who all detailed their stories as members of the LGBTIQ community.
Tennis Victoria senior participation leader, Tanya Mason, afterwards stated that the Pride in Tennis event was the first of its kind in the sport. “It’s important for communities to understand that tennis is a sport for everyone for life, no matter your gender, your race, your sexual orientation or ability.” said Ms Mason. “The fences are there to keep the balls in, not the people out.”
Local sporting clubs. and associations, such as the Traralgon Tennis Association have the capacity to create a ripple effect of change in communities. These events are powerful vehicle to promote change and acceptance within our region.
To learn more on how your club or association can be involved in hosting a pride event, contact the team at GippSport on 5126 1847
Some relevant statistics…
- 80% of all sports participants in Australia have experienced or witnessed discrimination on the basis of sexuality
- More than half of all transgender people, a quarter of males and 10% of females avoided playing sports they would like to play because of their sexuality or gender identity
- Nearly half of all sports participants aren’t out as sexuality or gender diverse to their sporting peers
- While sporting clubs may describe diversity broadly, its implementation is usually narrow
- Community demographics and changing social opinion drive commitment and resistance to diversity in sporting clubs
- Individual champions within sporting clubs are common drivers of diversity