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Proud Ball confident of impact

Press Conference: Pride launch Matt Finnis, Mark Evans and Jason Ball spoke to the media from today's Pride Game launch at the Prince of Wales in St Kilda.
I think it’s going to have a really profound impact.
Jason Ball

LGBTI activist Jason Ball believes the inaugural Pride Game will have a profound impact on the community.

Ball, who was the first Australian rules footballer at any level to come out as gay in 2012, expressed his pride at being involved in this watershed moment.

“I’m incredibly proud to be here today and I think there’s no more appropriate place than the St Kilda Football Club to be hosting the first Pride Game at the national level,” told reporters at the Pride Game launch on Wednesday.

“The fact that St Kilda is the home of the annual pride march, that it’s a suburb known for its diversity and its inclusion, I can’t think of a better club to be taking this to the national level. I think it’s going to have a really profound impact.”

When quizzed about what it would take for an AFL player to reveal their sexual preference in the current climate, Ball opined that no one should feel forced to come out of the closet.

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“My thoughts on that is that no one should be forced out of the closet, it’s important that people do that on their own terms,” Ball said.

“It’s important to understand the pressures of being in the closet; it’s not a good place.

“People who are in the closet are significantly worse off in terms of their mental health and wellbeing. I think that has a direct relationship to their physical health and their performance on the field.

“There’s a lot of reasons to make the game more inclusive and to make players who might be gay feel like it’s going to be okay to be who they are.”

St Kilda will face Sydney in Round 21 in the inaugural Pride Game at Etihad Stadium on August 13, proudly supported by VicHealth.

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