Fighting for equality in Australian sport

Article curtesy of Gay Star News

Australia is a nation that loves its sport and its sporting heroes.

We spoke with Dane McManus from Team Melbourne who are working hard to ensure that LGBT sportspeople can continue to play an active role in the sporting life of Australia.

When was Team Melbourne established?

Team Melbourne evolved from a gathering of Melbourne’s queer sporting clubs in December 2004 to begin planning for involvement in the international queer sporting meets in 2006 (the Chicago Gay Games and Montreal OutGames).  Originally called Queer Sports Alliance Melbourne (QSAM), the name was changed early in 2012 to be in line with other city-based groups and be more recognizable.

What’s the structure of the organization?

We are an umbrella organization for over 18 of Melbourne’s GLBTIQ sporting clubs.

Our member-clubs consist of anywhere between five to 100 members.

Our organization is managed by a committee of nine people, each of whom are involved in GLBTIQ sporting groups in Melbourne.

What are the main things Team Melbourne delivers for its members?

We are focussed on providing unity to Melbourne’s GLBTIQ sporting clubs. Each year, we arrange the Midsumma Sports Day where member-clubs can host a ‘come and try’ session at a single venue and members can compete and socialize with other clubs.

Team Melbourne also provides travel deals and social events for overseas sporting events such as the Gay Games and OutGames. We are in the process of designing a uniform for member clubs to use at these events and we are also working on aligning the sporting teams presence at Melbourne events such as Pride March and Midsumma Carnival.

We are also focussed on providing fundraising opportunities to member-clubs and platforms for promotion for members also. We also handle enquiries regarding access to GLBTIQ sport in Melbourne and direct these to the relevant clubs.

What are some of the challenges in running an organization such as Team Melbourne?

The biggest challenge we have is the fact the committee are all volunteers and are actively involved in their own clubs as well as holding full-time jobs.

Our other main challenge is keeping member-clubs engaged and making Team Melbourne relevant to a diverse group of people.

What sort of community outreach do you undertake?  

We host a sports day during Melbourne’s Midsumma Carnival providing an opportunity for GLBTIQ people to try a variety of sports at the one location.

We also hold social events and have a stall at Midsumma Carnival to ensure people are connected to Melbourne’s GLBTIQ sporting teams.

What are some of the key areas of focus for you?  

Our focus at the moment is to engage all GLBTIQ clubs in Melbourne and encourage cross-pollination between clubs. The organization offers an important forum for the exchange of ideas and clubs can provide support to each other in the form of advice or even volunteer manpower.

We are also focussed on providing tangible benefits to member clubs and developing our brand so we are the first port of call when it comes to questions regarding GLBTIQ people in sport.

What role does Team Melbourne play in tackling homophobia in sport?  

Our vision is ‘equality in sport and recreation, regardless of sexuality’ and through the work our member-clubs do, we fight to tackle homophobia throughout the general community.

We promote inclusion and diversity and encourage our clubs to provide the broader community with healthy GLBTIQ role models to connect to.

We are also actively involved in the ‘Say No To Homophobia’ campaign and are supporters of the Australian Football League’s tentative Pride Round.

What are some of the key tournaments and events that your members are training for? 

The Antwerp World OutGames will be our focus for the next few months. With teams such as the Glamourhead Sharks swimming team, Argonauts rowing and Spikers Volleyball all sending a number of competitors, we hope to have a large Team Melbourne presence there.

Next year we have the Asia Pacific Outgames in Darwin in May 2014 and then the Gay Games in Cleveland later that year.

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