19 May; Liam Petterson
Melbourne University Water Polo Club committee member and juris doctor student Rylee Olsson noticed the Club could’ve been doing more to support its diverse members. So, it held its first Pride Round.
“Seeing the effect of the initiatives of MU Sport and other affiliated clubs, the committee felt compelled to get involved,” Olsson says. “There was room for more to be done in the pride space in Victorian Water Polo, so we got the ball rolling.
“While we are a competitive club, having fun and making social connections is often a priority for members, and we want to make sure that everyone can harness these benefits no matter how they identify."
“Most importantly, this has opened up a dialogue among members on ensuring inclusivity, and the zero-tolerance for homophobia and transphobia within our club.”
The Club became the first to hold a Pride Round in any Australian water polo league when its Men’s and Women’s teams donned rainbow swimwear during matches in October.
The Round, which also included a cocktail event, celebrated the contributions of the Club’s LGBTQIA+ members and highlighted its support for inclusion in sport more broadly.
The Club also raised $557 from selling pride bathers, which was donated to Proud2Play, an organisation that strives to create welcoming sporting environments for the LGBTQIA+ community.
The money will go towards a specific water polo strategy for Proud2Play, allowing it to engage with state and national water polo bodies to develop an LGBTQIA+ inclusion strategy. Chris Bunting, MU Sport’s Pride and Diversity Coordinator, was proud of the Club’s efforts.
“This wonderful story is a clear demonstration of how the leadership shown by our Clubs can feed back into helping a sporting league become more inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community,” he says.
“I want to thank the Water Polo Club for their efforts, enthusiasm and innovation in their first Pride Round, and look forward to seeing how their leadership creates a more inclusive water polo community for all to enjoy.”
Earlier in the year, MUWPC joined 30 of the University’s sporting clubs in signing the Pledge of Pride, a vow to create and maintain inclusive sporting environments for LGBTQIA+ identifying people.
The Athletics, Basketball, Boat, Football, Hockey, Soccer and Softball clubs also held pride rounds in 2019, while MU Sport was awarded joint Highest Ranking Overall at Pride in Sport Australia’s awards night in recognition of the University’s leadership in the Pride space.
This story originally appeared in our 2019 Annual Report