AFL 9s kicks of Midsumma Festival
Thursday, January 30 2014 @ 08:03 am ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The AFL will hold an AFL 9s skills session and game next Saturday (1 February) at the Midsumma Festival, Victoria’s annual arts and culture festival for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community.
In conjunction with Carlton player Brock McLean and Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball, the AFL 9s session will give members of the GLBTI community a chance to try the AFL’s newest form of the game as part of the Midsumma Team Melbourne Sports Day.
AFL 9s is fast, free-flowing and involves nine players on each team playing on a smaller field with no tackling, making it suitable for everyone. It enables people of all ages and ability to participate in male, female or mixed competitions that fit around their busy lives and provide an environment where fun, enjoyment and safety are a priority.
The skills session and game are part of the AFL’s ongoing efforts to promote AFL 9s to new audiences as well as to further encourage diversity and inclusion in Australian football.
The AFL 9s program is national, with more than 1100 teams currently registered at over 80 venues across the country.
With the recent appointment of former Swans champion Jude Bolton and his wife Lynette Carroll-Bolton as AFL 9s national ambassadors and a target of 60,000 participants playing AFL 9s by 2016/17, AFL General Manager - People, Customer & Community, Dorothy Hisgrove said the aim was to expose as many potential players to the game as possible.
“AFL 9s is a terrific way for people to stay fit and stay in touch with friends and we look forward to seeing participation grow as the game becomes increasingly popular for its fun and social appeal.” Ms Hisgrove said.
“It is a game for everyone and we welcome the opportunity to team up with the Midsumma Team Melbourne Sports Day to encourage members of the GLBTI community to come along, have a kick and give AFL 9s a go.”
Brock McLean recently became an Athlete Ally ambassador as part of his personal efforts to encourage people to embrace equality and to stand up against homophobic behaviour. Jason Ball is an openly gay footballer at the Yarra Glen Football Club and an ambassador for beyondblue.
The AFL has been working with Mr Ball on initiatives to promote Australian football as a sport for everyone and one that provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for people in the GLBTI community. He has recently participated in training sessions for the State Football Leagues and his personal story is included in an education program for first-to-third year players at each of the 18 AFL clubs.
Mr Ball said that sport had long been a place where the GLBTI community felt excluded, whether through direct or indirect homophobia.
“That's why I'm so proud to see sporting events taking a more prominent role in this year's Midsumma Festival. This is a great way to create a safe and welcoming environment for the GLBTI community to increase participation in sport,” Mr Ball said.
“As the home of football it makes sense for Melbourne's premier queer festival to include the opportunity to come and try AFL, alongside all of the other sports already on offer at the Midsumma Sports Day.
“The modified rules of AFL9's makes it the perfect option for beginners to the game. It's fast, fun and easy to play. It is also fairly easy to get a group of friends together and play competitively in a local AFL9's competition.”
Mr Ball praised Brock McLean for his participation in the sports day.
“As the first AFL player to become an ambassador to Athlete Ally and march at Pride March last year, Brock's participation in the Midsumma Sports Day is another example of his tireless efforts to champion GLBTI inclusion and acceptance. His presence will be greatly appreciated and I know that all of the participants are looking forward to kicking the footy with him.”
The Team Melbourne Midsumma Sports Day will be held on Saturday 1 February at Footscray Park & Victoria University, Maribyrnong Blvd, Footscray.
From 11am Brock McLean and Jason Ball will join up with the St Albans Spurs FC to hold a skills session and to run some training drills. From 12.30pm – 1.30pm an introduction to AFL 9s will be held prior to a game.
For further information about AFL 9s and to register at your local venue, visit www.afl9s.com.au