The AFLW’s Pride Round is much more than a round on the calendar for SUNS forward Ashlee Atkins.
Round 8 marks the third occasion the AFLW competition will hold a dedicated Pride Round which aims to promote and support diversity and inclusion of LGBTQI+ communities and families, and acknowledges the AFL’s journey to being a more inclusive sport.
This season, the round will also acknowledge the role of allies in supporting inclusivity, visibility, and awareness of LGBTQI+ people within the sport and creating a safe environment where everyone feels welcomed and celebrated.
To Atkins, Pride Round represents inclusiveness, acceptance and support.
“It’s an amazing round to be a part of. The club is so inclusive, the players get around it and it’s a really good tone to set in the community that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how you identify, we stand with you,” Atkins said.
“It represents not only LGBTQIA+ community. I identify as gay and it’s such a great round for the AFLW to get around and say we stand with you, we see you and we’re with you all the way.
“That’s fantastic to have that inclusiveness in sport and to use our platform to really push that. You need that representation for young boys and girls coming through.
“It’s such an important thing for those kids to be able to grow up and see that no matter how you identify, everyone is the same at the end of the day.
“Equality is such a huge thing and for us to be pioneers in that when it comes to sport is massive.
“We’re heading in the right direction; it just needs to get bigger and bigger now.
The small forward was on hand earlier in the week for a first look at the club’s Season 7 Pride Guernsey.
The guernsey was designed in conjunction with the playing group and will feature elements of the traditional SUNS design, the Pride Progress Flag down each side, as well as the Transgender and Straight Ally flags.
“I love that the transgender flag, as well as a recognition of marginalised communities of colour, have been added on the sides and also really love the Ally flag on the back,” Atkins added.
“It’s great that the club have jumped on board and taken feedback to add more representation to the jumper.”
The team will don its Pride Guernsey in this Saturday night’s clash against Melbourne at Metricon Stadium. Tickets are available here with gates opening at 6pm.