Aboriginal AFL footballer Adam Goodes has been named The Australian of the Year 2014 for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on and off the sporting field.
Born in Wallaroo, South Australian in 1980, Goodes’ developed his passion for Aussie Rules at a young age.
Goodes was scouted by the Sydney Swans in the 1999 AFL draft and has since become a legacy at the club, a champion of the game, and an admired and respected household name in Australia.
Through his 16-year career, Goodes, has been honoured with many prestigious awards and accolades for his excellence in the game.
With two Brownlow Medals and two premierships to his name, the 34-year-old footballer is a four-time All-Australian, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, as well as an Australian representative in the International Rules Series.
As an Andyamathanha man, from the Flinders Range region in South Australia, Goodes has been a prominent and proud advocate of his indigenous heritage.
Last year, Goodes made national and international headlines, when he took a stand against racism at a Sydney versus Collingwood AFL match where he was called “an ape” by a rival teenage fan.
Upon hearing the racist slur, Goodes stopped play to point out the girl to security staff, who was then escorted from the stadium.
Despite an outcry from fans and the media, Goodes refused to blame the 13-year-old for her actions.
Instead Goodes made a point of the situation.
“Racism had a face last night and it was a 13-year-old girl – but it’s not her fault.
“It just hit me – it’s not a Collingwood issue, it’s not an AFL issue, it’s a society issue,” Goodes told the media following the incident.
The footballer continues to work actively with several Indigenous sport and community programs, as well as spending time working with troubled youth.
Goodes co-founded the Go Foundation in 2009 with his cousin and former teammate Michael O’Loughlin, which works towards empowering the next generation of Indigenous role models by focusing on promoting education, employment and healthy lifestyles.
The other 2014 recipients include:
- The Senior Australian of the Year 2014: Fred Chaney AO – Awarded for his commitment to reconciliation and human rights.
- The Young Australian of the Year 2014: 21 year old Paralympic swimmer Jacqueline Freney – Awarded for her achievements, tenacity and commitment, proving that we are all capable of greatness.
- Australia’s Local Hero 2014: Tim Conolan of Melbourne – Awarded for his charity TLC For Kids, which works towards making a difference to children in hospital and undergoing medical treatment.
Congratulations to the 2014 winners and nominees for their achievements, on the eve of the day in which we celebrate how lucky we are to be able to call ourselves Australians.
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