2019 Melbourne Mustangs Pride game. (Photo: Phil Taylor)

This weekend the Melbourne Mustangs will host their annual Pride game when they take on the Sydney Ice Dogs.

It’s a day in which the LGBTQIA+ community becomes a focus within the Australian Ice Hockey League.

First held in 2017, the event has been particularly important around inclusivity and that ice hockey is a sport for everyone.

A study by Monash University in 2019 revealed that homophobic language is used within the sport following a survey of AIHL players.

Because of what the Mustangs are doing for ice hockey, it is having lasting effects on marginalised communities.

Outside of the yearly Pride game, Australia has also seen the emergence of two new ice hockey clubs also promoting the inclusive vision.

The Southern Lights and Harbour Lights are two inclusive LGBTQIA+ ice hockey clubs where players who might not have played for fear of prejudice find an accepting environment on and off the ice.

This week The Inner Sanctum caught up with members of the Mustangs to find out just what this occasion means to them and as a club.

John Belic – President

“For as long as I can remember I have been participating in team sports in one shape or another.

“Sport is such a massive part of my life and that of our family and forms the very fabric of many of our social interactions.

“I would hate to think what life would be like if we could not participate because of fear, discrimination or ridicule.

“The Melbourne Mustangs Ice Hockey Club firmly believes in equality, fairness and inclusion for all.

“Our annual Pride game showcases the club’s commitment to these values.”

Brendan McDowell – Captain

“Pride to me is about being inclusive and showing support to the LGBTQIA+.

“It is devastating when you hear the things people are still going through still to this day.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the pride game and to show my support to all members of the community.”

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Adrian Webb – Secretary

“Like many of our volunteers and fans, the inclusivity of the Mustangs family is what drew me to this team. Looking across the stands it is fantastic to see that our supporters are all ages and from diverse backgrounds.

“The Pride Round is a great example of that – and it’s amazing to see how many of our fans wear the Pride merchandise all year round.”

Stuart Coombs – Supporter

“Being an enthusiastic long-term supporter and player sponsor of the Mustangs and an older gay man it was with considerable joy that I saw the Mustangs take the initiative by hosting a regular Pride game as part of their yearly fixture.

“I am old enough to remember when discrimination was par for the course in sport as well as in many other areas of society and no one batted an eyelid.

“To have a club I am a passionate supporter of be at the forefront of sending the message that ice hockey and more broadly sport in general is for everyone – including members of the LGBTQIA+ community – is exciting and makes me even prouder to support this great club.”

Puck drop is 2pm this Sunday, August 7 at the O’Brien Icehouse Arena. Tickets are still available here.

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