An Australian gay amateur footballer has come out publicly and at the same time started a petition to remove homophobia from the Australian Football League (AFL).

The Sunday Age newspaper reports that 24-year-old Aussie Rules player Jason Ball has begun a campaign on Change.org to have a “No to Homophobia ad” aired during the AFL Grand Final.

This would be the equivalent of playing an It Gets Better video during the US Super Bowl.

The petition received 16,340 signatures in the first five days and presently has over 19,000 signatures.

Ball, who plays for Yarra Glen seniors in the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League, described the petition as “terrifying to write” but also “important”.

He went on to describe how he had been playing amateur football since he was five, but when he realised he was gay “the idea that my teammates might find out was terrifying”.

‘It’s a blokey culture,’ says Ball “and gay slurs are a regular part of games and training.

“It’s a horrible reminder that you’re different, reviled, and unwelcome.”

Despite this perceived hostile atmosphere, Ball says his teammates have been very welcoming and he has been “pretty lucky”.

He now believes that it is time for a cultural shift in the AFL.

“I think the players are ready for change. The clubs are ready for change. The supporters are ready for change.

“We just need the AFL to lead and help shift the sporting culture so that players and fans like me can openly be who we are without fear.”

This petition has come shortly after Andrew Demetriou, the CEO of AFL, publicly supported the No To Homophobia campaign.