PLAYERS’ VOICE — TOM CAMPBELL

Football has been a part of my life since I was a little kid. I’ve always loved being part of a club from a grassroots level, through when I was playing state-league football and to eventually being drafted into the AFL.

I’ve had the privilege of being part of a football club and involved in the sport but unfortunately there are people out there who are not afforded this opportunity because they don’t feel safe in a sporting environment.

Understanding this, I chose to become involved with Stand Up Events and Move IN May. I want to stand up for equality in sport and in life and be part of the change that will allow everyone to feel comfortable to be involved in sport and the opportunities to love sport in the way that I have.

As part of my role as an ambassador, I am involved in a world-first research program into homophobia in male-dominated team sports. Along with Jordan Roughead and Jayden Hunt, we visit community football clubs around Victoria and speak to them about the impact their behaviour can have on the people around them and how language affects people’s involvement, and continued involvement, in sport.

Before delivering these programs, we were involved in two three-hour training sessions with Stand Up Events and Monash University where we came to understand the current research around attitudes and behaviours relating to homophobia.

After developing a better understanding of these issues, the three of us began to unpack our reasons for being involved in the program. Our ideas resulted in powerful discussions centring around how we can create maximum impact and tackle behaviours, especially language, around homophobia in sport.

The research shows that while attitudes are changing and sporting environments are becoming more inclusive, homophobic behaviours are still prevalent.

When you look at the statistics surrounding the Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual community, the suicide rates are four or five times higher than straight people, reaching to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide, with 50 per cent of the Trans community attempting suicide at least once in their lives.

When you begin to understand the significance of those numbers, you understand the impact that your behaviour is having on other people – it’s not something to ignore because people’s lives are on the line.

It’s why Move IN May is such an important event. It’s not just a pride march – it’s about people – it’s about supporting equality.

It’s an event for everyone who believes in equality in sport and society.

All proceeds raised from Move IN May go towards supporting this world-first research and the delivery of these programs so that we can continue to have an impact on the community and people’s lives.

When we can change behaviours to match the shifting attitudes in society then everyone is going to have the same opportunity to love sport the way I did when I was growing up, and still do to this day.

We want this program to be delivered as wide-reaching as possible. There is no limit on reducing stigma and homophobic behaviour.

I’m participating in Move IN May because I believe everyone should be comfortable playing and being involved in sport.

It’s about fostering environments where people feel comfortable to be their true selves.