Adam Goodes still hurting from schoolgirl’s racist slur during Collingwood game
- BY HOLLY BYRNES NATIONAL TV WRITER
- NEWS LIMITED NETWORK
- OCTOBER 27, 2013 12:00AM
THE hurt is still there in Adam Goodes’ eyes, the trauma of being “cut deep” by a schoolgirl’s racist slur in an environment where he says he has always felt “safe.”
Now, five months on from the infamous moment when Goodes had a 13-year-old girl ejected from the MCG for calling him an “ape,” the Sydney Swans legend has revealed the true extent of his pain over the incident – and why it still haunts him.
In an emotionally raw interview with Karla Grant’s Living Black In Conversation program, Goodes admits he was feeling “vulnerable” in the moments before taking a stand against the racist taunt yelled at him from the crowd.
It came in the dying minutes of the game, with his side on top of their clash with Collingwood, during the AFL’s celebrations of its indigenous history.
“We were beating Collingwood by 30-something points and (the slur) came in a point in the game where I was just a bit vulnerable, to be honest,” he said.
Chasing a ball over the boundary line, he says he was stung by the sledge, recoiling in horror when he discovered the culprit was a young girl.
“I just looked back and saw this young girl and I just looked away. Then I was like ‘nah, this isn’t happening’ and I pointed her out to the security guard and said ‘mate, I don’t want her here, get her out.”
Goodes began to unravel emotionally almost immediately, saying a decision by his coach John Longmire to sub him from the ground “wasn’t a great idea.”
“I knew what he was doing … he was giving me a rest because there was probably five minutes to go, but I was sat there on the bench and that’s when it hit me. Hit me, cut me and I just couldn’t be out there anymore.”
Retreating to the change rooms he said: “I went downstairs and I lost it emotionally. It just really cut me deep and I didn’t want to be on the ground anymore.”
Part of his shock was being attacked “in an environment where you would like to think you are pretty safe … safe physically because I am built to play that sport. That’s what I think a lot of people don’t get. How can one girl calling you a simple name like that hurt you so much?”
To those who accused him of overreacting he said: “Unless those people have a real good think about what it means … what I’ve gone through in my life, what my mum’s gone through in her life, what our people have been through in the last 200 years, then they might understand how a simple name can really cut someone so deep. For me, it was just shattering.”
Goodes was praised by AFL administrators and many fans for taking such a powerful stand against racism, including an apology from Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.
But just five days later McGuire would add salt to Goodes’ wound, linking him to the promotion of the musical King Kong during a blundering radio segment on Triple M.
It was another “disappointment,” Goodes says, made more inexplicable when it came from a professional of the game and leading media figure.
“I still can’t believe it … in my mind … how that could come out of his mouth. It’s disappointing but at the same time I take my hat off to Eddie for the way he sat in front of the media and apologised.”
The 33-year-old dual Brownlow medallist is still struggling with the aftermath of that fateful MCG moment – and especially the impact the national scrutiny would have on his young adversary.
“I can’t sit here and say it still doesn’t affect me because it does, When something is said to you like that it cuts you to your core and cuts you to your core more when it’s a young girl.”
In the days later, Goodes accepted the girl’s written apology and talked through its impact on him with her during a phone call from the teen.
He tweeted: “Just received a phone call from a young girl apologising for her actions. Let’s support her please #racismitstopswithme #indigenousround.”
His responsible handling of the explosive situation, says his friend and former Swans teammate Michael O’Loughlin, was “all class, all Goodsey.”
“I was lucky enough to be sitting in the commentary box and I was a bit stunned by it all as well but that’s the way he’s always been. The first thing was about helping the young girl and then going from there,” O’Loughlin said.
Goodes says the challenge of stamping out racial vilification in sport, and in the community, was “everybody’s job.”
“Unfortunately it still does happen it what we need to see is people standing up and saying ‘look, that’s unacceptable’ and reporting it. Saying ‘you know what, you can’t call me that … if Adam Goodes can stand up in the biggest stage, the MCG, in front of 60,000 people then I can do it out here in club footy and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
■ Living Black In Conversation with Adam Goodes aired at 8pm, Tuesday, October 29, on NITV and was repeated at 5pm, November 3, on SBSOne.