Pride Football Australia 2016: Melbourne Rovers Men’s Team and Flying Bats victorious
CREATED ON // Tuesday, 11 October 2016 Author // Reg Domingo
The men’s team of the Melbourne Rovers have regained the Justin Fashanu Cup in a nail-biting match with the Sydney Rangers at the Pride Football Australia Tournament.
The Rovers beat the Rangers in a penalty shoot out after going 1-1 during the game.
Rovers President Heath Wilson praised the men’s team for their performance against such skilled competitors.
“With the Sydney Rangers on a roll winning the Justin Fashanu Cup over the last three years, the Melbourne Rovers had their back against the wall,” Wilson said.
“This win was amazing for many individuals and our club as a whole, I am very proud of how the team performed on the day.
“Every year the Justin Fashanu Cup is a hard fought match going down to the wire. This is the second year in a row it has been decided by a penalty shoot out.”
Above/Main: The Melbourne Rovers celebrate their victory in the Justin Fashanu Cup. Photo: Reg Domingo
Despite the club’s loss, Sydney Rangers President Joseph Roppolo said the team delivered a great game of football.
“This year’s JF Cup was another classic ‘nail-biter’ with neither team able to break the deadlock in the standard 90 minutes.
“The Rovers played very well in the first half scoring a beautiful header to go 1-0 up. They’re a physical bunch of boys and played some really tidy football.
Above: The Sydney Rangers take on the Melbourne Rovers. Photo: Reg Domingo
“It was pleasing to see Coach Ben Bagshaw and our Rangers representing all four of our winter comp teams, mount a successful second half fight back with Captain Koji Niikura deservedly equalising from the penalty spot.
“The game ended 1-1 and Melbourne won the resulting shoot-out 3-1 with some great goal keeping on display.”
Above: The Sydney Rangers. Photo: Reg Domingo
Meanwhile, the Flying Bats Women’s Soccer Club beat the women’s team of the Rovers 2-0 to win the Julie Murray Cup.
Above: The Flying Bats Women's Football Club and the women's team from the Melbourne Rovers. Photo: Reg Domingo
Pride Football Australia is an annual tournament between gay and lesbian soccer clubs from Sydney and Melbourne, with the men’s and women’s teams from the Melbourne Rovers taking on the Sydney Rangers Football Club and the Flying Bats Women’s Football Club.
Now in its fifth year, the tournament was founded to challenge stereotypes and display the message of diversity and inclusion in football.
The Justin Fashanu Cup is in memory of English footballer Justin Fashanu – one of the first professional footballers to come out as gay and who tragically committed suicide in 1998 – while the Julie Murray cup is in honour of the openly-gay Australian footballer.
Around 200 people attended the tournament at Lambert Park in Leichhardt on Saturday, October 8, which also saw the inaugural small-side competition, won by a team of players called ‘Supergay’.
Pride Football Australia President Alicia Rich said this year’s tournament was “the best yet”.
“Julie Murray brought her family and spoke warmly about how the tournament has grown since the first year, how her life has changed since she signed on, and how she is proud to be part of it,” Rich said.
“Thank you to everyone who made this tournament a success.”
Rovers’ Wilson added: “Pride Football Australia goes from strength to strength, growing in stature. The organising committee across the Sydney Rangers and Flying Bats did an amazing job”.
The Rangers’ Roppolo said: “The future looks bright for Pride Football Australia as we continue to bring players and clubs together from all around the country spreading a message of tolerance, equality, diversity and inclusion in the game we love”.