Three years ago, a rainbow lit up AGL Loy Yang’s large 110m cooling tower in support of the first ever Gippsland Pride Cup.

Since then the message of inclusion has spread throughout Gippsland. The passion for diversity and the acceptance of all has grown, and this week the 40,000km2 region east of Melbourne celebrated the third Gippsland Pride Cup event.

Kicking off

As major sponsors of the North Gippsland Football and Netball League (NGFNL), AGL Loy Yang approached AFL Gippsland and NGFNL in 2017 about the concept of holding a Gippsland Pride Cup.

NGFNL president David Kyle was immediately receptive of the idea – but also accepted it would take hard work. There was a high level of support for the event – but others who were hesitant.

AGL joined a working group with the NGFNL, and collaborated with other organisations like Latrobe Regional Health, to organise the region’s first Pride Cup. The NGFNL held education sessions across the region with national Pride Cup founder and Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball, the second male Australian rules football player at any level to publicly come out in the national media.

Powering forward

Since then, pride events, initiatives and community forums have grown across Gippsland. More and more people are becoming educated, more are sharing stories, and the message of acceptance is growing.

Last year Traralgon Tennis Association, supported by AGL Loy Yang, decided to hold the first ever Pride in Tennis event. Former tennis star Jelena Dokic attended the Traralgon Challenger to help the association send a clear message that, all people – no matter their race, gender, or sexuality – should be able to enjoy sport.

This year the Gippsland Pride Initiative was held with a community forum, roller derby, and gala event, supported by AGL Loy Yang.

Supporting the communities we operate in is extremely important to AGL and the feeling of positivity at these events has given many of our employees are sense of pride.

Gippsland, with support from AGL Loy Yang, is an area that has now been recognised for its work in the space of LGBTIQ inclusion.

NGFNL president David Kyle was the recent recipient of the national Pride in Sport Ally Award for his work in this space. His fellow nominee, Susie Grumley from Traralgon Tennis Association, was also recognised for her work on the Pride in Tennis event. Together, they are two Gippslanders deservingly acknowledged for their efforts to ensure inclusion and diversity is front of mind, and that people in our region can feel comfortable being their true selves.

Why we fight

We know that especially in regional areas, sporting clubs in codes like football, netball, and tennis are places where young people can feel a real sense of belonging. Pride Cup builds on that – it opens the door even wider to people who may have felt fearful about getting involved or being their true selves. AGL is privileged to support the sense of community, inclusiveness and belonging that the NGFNL Gippsland Pride Cup champions.