- Sep 27, 2014
- AFL Club
- Other Teams
- Roosters, Mets
A shameful time in AFL history.
Plenty of people who booed will be keeping their mouths shut when their kids or grandkids ask what it was all about.Leading Indigenous footballers have spoken out ahead of the release of a documentary about former AFL star Adam Goodes, declaring their anger, shame and guilt over the way the Sydney Swans champion left the game.
The Final Quarter is compiled entirely from archival footage of Goodes and the events that preceded his 2015 departure from football amid ongoing booing episodes that sparked a national debate about racism.
The Indigenous Players Advisory Board includes past and present AFL players, with those still playing including Hawthorn's Shaun Burgoyne and Chad Wingard, Melbourne's Neville Jetta, Brisbane's Allan Christensen, Richmond's Shane Edwards and Carlton's Jarrod Pickett.
In a statement, the group said many of them had left a screening earlier this year with "feelings of anger, shame and guilt but also a strong sense of pride and hope".
"We were angry with how Adam, one of the greatest to play the game, was faced with clear racial discrimination from members of the public during this time.
"We are ashamed with how the game didn't provide enough support to Adam during the most challenging time of his life.
"We feel guilty that we, as his brothers, didn't do more to protect him.
"We are proud that he stood up for what is right.
"We are hopeful that this moment will be remembered as a turning point for Indigenous people.
This week The Final Quarter's director, Ian Darling, said he felt the need to make the film in August 2015, when fans demonstrated an outpouring of support for Goodes with the #IStandWithAdam movement.
Goodes, the 2014 Australian of the Year, had been the target of serial booing from fans after calling out a member of the crowd for a racial slur.
Then teammate — now at West Coast — Lewis Jetta and Goodes planned that during the 2015 Indigenous round against Carlton whichever of the pair scored a goal first would perform an Indigenous dance.
Goodes scored first and performed a war cry created by a group of Aboriginal teenagers from the football development and leadership program, the Flying Boomerangs.
The booing continued throughout the season, and Goodes retired after the Sydney Swans' finals loss to North Melbourne that September.
"This was a traumatic time for Adam and was felt by all Indigenous people," the Indigenous Player's Advisory Group said in the statement.
"However, it would've been a great shame had society moved on and forgotten the detail of what unfolded. It's important that we all learn from the experience to ensure it does not happen again.
"We want The Final Quarter to be seen by school kids across the country and we urge all Australians to commit to watching it. We strongly believe education is the key to behavioural change.
"It is a time for us to all be open, not to be fearful, or defensive, and look to shift blame or promote hate.
"We want it to start a conversation about what we can ALL do to promote reconciliation."
They paid personal tribute to Goodes, who they said was a "hero, friend or teammate" to many of them and a respected champion of the game.
"Thank you for standing up for us and we hope that one day you can look back on this time in your life with pride knowing the impact that it had on Indigenous people," they said.
"For us, your leadership on this issue already sits alongside your premierships and Brownlow Medals as part of your amazing legacy, and we know that you've got many more great things to achieve in your life."
AFL Players' Association president Patrick Dangerfield also released a statement, saying players felt "incredibly sad" at what Goodes had gone through.
"We implore all footy fans to watch the documentary and let it serve as a timely reminder of the devastation that racism inflicts," he said.
"Despite all Goodesy went through, and situations that have continued to arise this year towards other members of our playing group, racism still sadly exists in the football community.
"We hope that the public's reaction to these films remind Goodesy how many people love and respect him and that one day he'll deem the game worthy of his love once again."