Indigenous footballer, Adam Goodes says that racism in Australia was given a face and a name this week. And that face was a 13-year-old girl.
The teenage Collingwood fan was at the MCG on Friday evening, watching her beloved Pies lose to the Sydney Swans. The match was part of the annual Indigenous round, through which the AFL acknowledges the amazing contribution that Aboriginal players make to the game.
13-year-old, Jessica*, frustrated and angry at her team’s poor play, yelled out at Adam Goodes, calling him an ‘ape’. Goodes turned around, visibly shocked and upset at this racially charged abuse, and watched as the girl was ejected from the stadium by security.
Immediately following the match, Eddie Maguire, who is President of the Collingwood Football Club went to the Swans’ team locker rooms to apologise to Goodes for the behaviour of one of his members.
Goodes, the man on the receiving end of the abuse, has graciously refused to blame Jessica for her racist taunt. She has since spoken to him on the phone and written him a letter to apologise.
In the simple and honest language and hand-writing of a kid just embarking on a high school career, Jessica wrote:
“Dear Adam, it was good to talk to you on the phone. I’m sorry for being racist.
“I didn’t mean any harm and now I’ll think twice before I speak.”
Jessica’s mother has explained to the press that her daughter didn’t know that calling someone an ‘ape’ was a racial slur.