Melbourne University Lightning will show their rainbow colours this July as they host their annual Pride Round in support of the LGTBIQ community.
The club first launched this round in 2017, making this year’s round the third of its kind to run. Players will wear rainbow coloured bibs and ribbons in their hair as a symbol of recognition of pride.
“The round is a celebration of diversity in our community,” club President Lindy Murphy said.
“It’s an illustration of how sport has the capacity to impact change in our community by creating opportunities for members of the LGTBIQ community to prosper and thrive.
“As we’re a member of the University of Melbourne, we have a very strong agenda in promoting social inclusion and diversity, so we were very quick to jump on board with incorporating pride into our sport.”
As a mentor to young netballers, Murphy feels she has a duty to provide opportunities for social inclusion in every aspect of the word. She believes the Lightning as a club and its Pride Round provides an environment where young netballers can feel confident and have the assurance that they can be themselves.
“One of our club’s key strategies is to collaborate with our partners to impact social outcomes so that we can build stronger, more resilient and more equitable communities.
“In participating in the LGTBIQ Pride Round we are really illustrating as a club that we support young people that may be struggling with their sexual identity.”
Club captain, Maddie Carter, echoes Murphy’s words on the importance of Lightning’s Pride Round. She advocates netball and all forms of sport should be a place for inclusiveness and personal development.
“Netball is definitely becoming more inclusive through initiatives such as these,” Carter said.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for not only those at Melbourne University Lightning, but the wider Netball Victoria community, to get involved and support such a wonderful social movement.”
As a player who has participated in the first two years of Lightning’s Pride Round, Carter has been overjoyed by the public’s response to the idea.
“The club itself has been absolutely thrilled to be able to do something like this and it’s probably the first in our sport for Netball Victoria to get such an initiative up and running.
“The girls have taken it in their stride and have used it as a way of celebrating. I feel our club is incredibly inclusive and diverse so I think it’s really important that we spread that message even further.”
Lindy already has plans for the future of LGTBIQ promotion and positivity in netball.
“Next year the program is going to expand, and we will be assisted with purchasing rainbow coloured dresses for players to wear.
“In five years, I hope that every VNL club is wearing the rainbow colours in some format and that there will be a sea of rainbow both in the stands and on court.
“Umpires could wear rainbow coloured skirts, scorers on the bench could have rainbow coloured beanies. The sky is the limit and there is so much you can do.”
Lightning’s 2019 Pride Round will take place in round 16 of the Bupa VNL season on Wednesday 10 July from 7pm at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
“We want everyone to come along. Come in your rainbow colours to support Pride Round and all those wonderful members of the LGBTIQ community, so that they want to be involved in our sport,” Murphy said.
“We want people from all walks of life, regardless of your gender, your religion, your race or your colour, to feel welcome at our club. There is a place and a role for everybody.”