Pride tournament sees goals aplenty
The appearance of Italian superstar Allesandro Del Piero in a Sydney FC shirt for the first time wasn’t the only historic footballing episode last weekend, with the inaugural Pride Football Australia tournament seeing more than enough goals kicked on and off the pitch to leave everyone involved eagerly awaiting next year’s event.
Jointly hosted by the Sydney Rangers and Flying Bats LGBT football clubs, 95 players and over 150 spectators braved the sometimes wild winds at David Phillips field in Sydney’s east on Saturday, October 6 as men and women’s teams from Sydney and Melbourne battled it out for the Justin Fashanu Cup and the Julie Murray Cup.
In the end, the Melbourne Rovers men took home the spoils and the fourth annual Justin Fashanu Cup presented by ACON with a tight 1-0 victory over the Sydney Rangers while the Julie Murray Cup was split between the Flying Bats and the Rovers’ women’s team after a serious injury caused the game to be cut short with scores locked at 2-2.
Former Matildas star Murray was present for the action throughout the day and was involved in judging the player of the match awards, both of which went to players from the Melbourne Rovers.
Earlier in the day a mixed match between the Bats and Rangers saw Australia defeat The World 5-4 in a highly entertaining friendly exhibition game.
Sydney Rangers coach Joseph Roppolo said football and the LGBT community were the winners on the weekend.
“My boys gave everything to try and break down the excellent Rovers defence and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he said.
“With both clubs now locked at two title wins each, Rangers are already looking forward to doing our best to win back the Justin Fashanu Cup in 2013.”
Alicia Rich, president of the Flying Bats said, it was unfortunate the women’s match had to end the way it did as the tension was palpable.
“We would have loved to decide a winner with penalties, but under the circumstances, we think a draw is a fair and we're so thankful that the Rovers player is not seriously injured,” she said.
“We are looking forward to someone winning the trophy outright in 2013!”
Heath Wilson, president of the Melbourne Rovers Soccer Club said the Sydney clubs had done a “truly amazing” job at putting the tournament together as well as attracting ACON and Football NSW to support it.
“What an incredible amount of work you guys put in to give a welcome like that to the visiting Rovers and to create and set up the Pride Football Australia brand in such impressive fashion,” Wilson said.
“This tournament has the potential to make a lasting impact not only in the football community but more widely too.”
The tournament will be hosted in Melbourne by the Rovers next year, Sydney Rangers president Gavin Mears said, with high hopes of even more LGBT-friendly teams from all around Australia being involved.
“We will be inviting teams from other major cities around the country.
“We know there are lesbian teams in Adelaide and we want to offer whatever assistance we can to help GLBT friendly clubs form in Brisbane, Perth and the other major capitals,” he said.
“The future is certainly looking bright for gay and lesbian football in Australia.”
Photo: Robert Knapman