Ian Darling’s documentary The Final Quarter is a confronting and harrowing reflection on the sustained racism experience endured by Adam Goodes throughout the closing chapter of his remarkable career.
For an industry that has benefited immeasurably from the collective contribution of our Aboriginal players, The Final Quarter highlights the stark and disappointing reality of racism in our game.
The booing, vitriol and hatred which blighted Adam’s final years also created significant heartache for other Aboriginal players, football fans, industry staff including Adam’s brother and much loved Western Bulldogs past player and current staff member Brett Goodes, and our First Nations people and communities.
In late 2014, we were horrified by this unfolding tragedy including the behaviour of significant sections of our own supporter base attending the Round 22 match against Sydney at the then Etihad Stadium.
These attitudes are in direct conflict to what we represent as a football club and who we aspire to be. Neither does it reflect the actions we led throughout this subsequent period, including:
- In July 2015, the Club wrote to the AFL calling for a public statement to be made on behalf of the football industry supporting Adam Goodes and condemning the booing of him;
- The release of an online campaign ‘Be Loud, Be Fair’ that encouraged our members and fans to support everyone’s right to enjoy the footy free from abuse;
- Then Captain Bob Murphy wore Adam’s No. 37 for the coin toss before our Rd 18, 2015 match against Essendon; and
- The introduction of a members’ code of conduct to deal with racist and abusive crowd behaviour.
We are certainly not immune to our collective history and we will continue to face challenges as a result of the ignorance and miseducation that has permeated through Australian communities for generations.
Knowing this, we will continue to value our people and stand up against any form of racism or discrimination.
The Western Bulldogs prides itself on our diversity, our inclusion and our unwavering belief that it’s our differences that make us great.
We deeply value the unique place, gifts and talents of our First Nations people and will continue to be inspired by their strength and resilience. We will, however, stand in fierce alliance and defiance against behaviours that diminish, discriminate or devalue Aboriginal people and communities in any way.
The power of education in influencing change is a critical piece to deepening understanding and insight.
The Western Bulldogs will be working to implement programs which will build awareness through facilitated discussion on the documentary and mobilising our community to share in this change.