From gutted to ‘glad’: Why Goodes now sees MCG racial slur as a positive
Sydney great Adam Goodes can now see the positives from the racist sledge that sparked the sad chain of events which blighted the final chapter of his decorated career.
“Gutted” the day after being racially vilified by a 13-year-old Collingwood fan during a game in the Indigenous Round of 2013, Goodes says he is “glad” it happened as it gave Australia the chance to confront racism.
Adam Goodes can see the silver lining in the ugly end to his decorated career.Credit:Getty Images
It is a mark of Goodes’s strength of character and integrity that he can view a shameful episode in Australian sport, which caused him considerable pain, in this manner.
The dual Brownlow Medallist and the Swans’ two-time premiership hero was almost universally revered by fans in the first 15 years of his career, only to be hounded out of the game after daring to call out a racial slur directed at him.
Crowned Australian of the Year in 2014 for his advocacy against racism, Goodes was subsequently subjected to a booing campaign by rival fans, which became relentless in 2015 and hastened his retirement.
Despite a belated apology by the AFL in 2019 for failing to support him at the height of the storm, Goodes has kept his distance from the game, limiting his football appearances to games and functions hosted by his beloved Swans.
It is in a similarly friendly environment that Goodes, who seldom speaks publicly, has addressed the saga, the positives that have arisen from it, and his work with the GO Foundation, a charity he and close friend Michael O’Loughlin founded to empower Indigenous children through education.
Swans legends Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin founded the GO Foundation to empower Indigenous youth through education.Credit:Getty
“I think I believe everything happens for a reason. I’m glad, you know, that 13-year-old girl called me an ape that night because it has ended [with] me up to where we are today,” Goodes said in an episode of the business and leadership podcast series “What Matters”, run by Swans chairman Andrew Pridham and hosted by the Swans’ former No.1 ticket-holder and media personality, Adam Spencer, to be released on Monday.
“How I feel like we’re in a place today that, you know, five years ago we probably might not have been as a nation. The way we’re talking about racism, the way our kids in school are educating us about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – there is a true and real empathy for Indigenous people and culture, I feel at the moment.”
Since the interview was conducted late last year, the AFL has dealt with several racial incidents, headlined by former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker’s racist remarks at a SANFL game. The widespread condemnation of Walker’s behaviour contrasts with the environment in 2015, when the league and several club bosses refused to condemn fans for booing Goodes.
The issue came to a head after a game in Perth in which large sections of a partisan West Coast crowd resoundingly jeered the Swans champion.
Pridham and other Swans leaders had stayed quiet on the topic at Goodes’s behest, but were given the green light by the player to speak up.
The chairman declared anyone who continued to boo Goodes is racist, while coach John Longmire came out in support for his former captain, who took a week off from the game.
Goodes said it was in the aftermath of the Eagles match that he realised he no longer wanted to play the sport he had once loved.
“It was just horrible over there and that’s where it all just hit me: that this is going to be my last year of football and this is going to be my sending out,” Goodes said.
“I’m going to be booed all the way to the end, the final end. It just hit me. I just couldn’t fathom, you know, that would be the end of my career. I’ve played with a couple of legends that have finished with the fairytale – Jason Ball and Paul Williams – but for me, I was just like, ‘Well, this is the way it’s going to end. I want to make sure I end it on my terms’.”
Goodes bowed out after the Swans’ 2015 semi-final loss to North Melbourne at ANZ Stadium, during which a pocket of Kangaroos fans also booed him.
“It just took a complete weight off my shoulders, and that weight was having to go to work for two hours and put up with that shit that was happening; that I couldn’t pinpoint who it was,” Goodes said.
“I couldn’t see their faces, but it was just happening around me in my work environment. It doesn’t happen today. It doesn’t happen on the streets, never did.”
Goodes says he hopes Indigenous kids today, like those in his foundation, can learn from his experiences.
“The message that I have, especially for the GO students, is there’s always going to be people who boo us, whether it’s overtly or not. They’re going to be there,” Goodes said.
“They’re going to try and knock us down from being who we want to be and who we deserve to be and the success that comes with that.
“You’re just going to keep rising above it and if hopefully in reflecting on what happened to me in their own world, in their own circumstances, that they can draw on some of that strength and power to make them get through those tough times in their life, then that’s me having to make that sacrifice for the future generations.”
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article