Goodes: Booing controversy ruined my ‘safe place’
AFL champion Adam Goodes says the booing controversy that killed his career turned his "safe place" on the football oval into a field of dread.
"Football, for me, was a place where I got accepted for being a good footballer," Goodes, a Sydney Swans superstar and dual Brownlow Medalist, says in the documentary The Australian Dream, which premieres at the Melbourne International Film Festival tonight.
"It didn't matter where I came from, It was a safe place that helped me break down barriers."
But he said the booing controversy changed his outlook on football, and the arena it was played on.
He says: "It actually became a place I hated to walk out onto."
The documentary studies Goodes' upbringing, rise to AFL stardom, a reconnection to his indigenous heritage, then a backlash after he called out a young fan for calling him an "ape" during a match at the MCG.
Goodes' forthright views on indigenous rights while he was Australian of the Year in 2012, and reaction to his "war cry" performed during a game, saw him loudly booed at games until he retired in 2015.
Football identities including Nathan Buckley, Eddie McGuire, Gilbert McAdam, Michael O'Loughlin, Paul Roos, John Longmire, Herald Sun commentator Andrew Bolt, and broadcaster Stan Grant are interviewed in the film.
In the film, Goodes rejected opinion he was a "sook" through the booing controversy and needed to "harden up."
He said: "People would say, 'Oh, you're just a big sook.' But let me put you in that situation, let me question you about who you are as a person.
"Yeah, it's fun, and a laugh for you ... you can boo me and feel happy about yourself because you're part of the crowd that did that. But deep down there were people in that crowd booing me because of my Aboriginality."
Later in the film, Goodes addresses suggestions Aboriginal should grow a thicker skin on race issues.
"Our skin doesn't get any thicker than it is," Goodes says.
"You want us to harden up? How about you come on the journey with us, and help us. We don't want handouts, we want a hand up. Let's give each other a hand up, help educate each other, create better opportunities for all of us."
Goodes said he never wanted a fairytale ending to his career, but simply walked away after the Swans semi-final loss to North Melbourne in 2015, because he'd had enough.
"I didn't need to subject myself to this arena, where it gave people an opportunity to show their racist attitude towards me. I didn't want to give people that platform anymore," he said.
"I've never been one for the fairytale ending and the perfect send-off. My ending is my ending. I chose to end it the way I wanted to."
The Australian Dream opens nationally in cinemas on August 22.