At Mamamia, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the Australian men who are doing good things and trying to make our country a better place. So we came to you with a list of 100 great Aussie men and asked you to decide Mamamia’s 50 Best Blokes. This week, we’ll be counting down the top ten and announcing who you chose as Mamamia’s Best Bloke on Friday. We’re so pleased to present former Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, who came in at number seven.
In September last year, after 18 years and 372 games, Adam Goodes retired from AFL.
Aside from a phenomenal career on the football field, the dual Brownlow medallist and former Australian of the Year is consistently an outspoken advocate for his fellow Indigenous Australians and an anti-domestic violence campaigner.
His mother, Lisa. is an indigenous Australian and a member of the Stolen Generation.
"Mum didn't have the best upbringing," he told AFL Record. "The reason why was because her Mum wasn't looking after her own kids properly and that's what drove her to seek a better way of life and to make sure the government didn't then take her kids away."
Goodes' parents separated when he was four with his father moving to Queensland with Goodes, his two brothers and his mum, eventually settling in Western Victoria.
Goodes, now 36, says his mother "sacrificed everything so that we could be the best we could possibly be."
"Adam saw my struggles as an indigenous woman," Lisa told AFL Record. "And that I was petrified that anyone would ever take away my own children, and I think that helped shape how proud he became of his own heritage," she said
Throughout his long AFL career - over 17 seasons with the Sydney Swans - Goodes has consistently supported Indigenous sport and grassroots football programs.
He has also worked with young people off the field, supporting troubled teenagers in and out of youth detention centres and runs a foundation with his cousin and former teammate, Michael O'Loughlin, that assists young people to get jobs and an education and promotes healthy lifestyles.
Most incredibly, and even in the face of consistent, inexcusable racism, he does it all with pride and poise.
Adam Goodes was the 2014 Australian of the Year. Source: Getty
Describing himself as "a very proud Indigenous man from Adnyamathanha tribe", Goodes said when he was made Australian of the Year in 2014: "I'm not here to tell you what to think or how to act or raise your children. All I'm here to do is to tell you about my experiences and hope you choose to be aware of your actions and interactions so that together we can eliminate racism."
Remember that time he appeared on Playschool (post continues after video)?
His decision to talk about racism in Australia was no doubt contributed to by an incident Goodes was involved with in 2013 while playing the game he loves. During the AFL's annual Indigenous Round, Goodes had stopped playing to confront a 13-year-old girl who had called him an "ape" from the sidelines of the MCG.
After he pointed to the young Collingwood fan, she was escorted from the stadium by security.
"To come to the boundary line and hear a 13-year-old girl call me an 'ape', and it's not the first time on a footy field that I've been referred to as a 'monkey' or an 'ape', it was shattering," he said of the incident, adding that it was not the girl's fault.
"People need to get around her. She is 13, she is uneducated. If she wants to pick up the phone and call me I will take that call and I’ll have a conversation with that girl about, you know what, you called me a name and this is how it made me feel."
She subsequently apologised over the phone and in a heartfelt letter.
Unfortunately it didn't end there, however, and Goodes continued to be taunted and booed by rival football fans for years when he took to the field.
The abuse peaked during a clash between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles, with sections of the 40,000-strong crowd jeering almost constantly throughout the game.
It was widely considered one of the worst incidents he endured during his career and sparked a nation-wide debate about racism in Australia and led him to quietly slipping into a media hiatus after his retirement.
Over the years, Goodes has also dealt with cringe-worthy "jokes" from commentators like Eddie Mcguire and slurs on and off the field, from players and football fans alike.
He also copped torrents of racist abuse on social media — to the point that he eventually de-activated his Twitter account — and had his Wikipedia page repeatedly vandalised.
For several months after his final game last September, Goodes kept a low profile, eschewing the spotlight of the media.
The first interview he granted was an exclusive with a young Indigenous student and activist for Sydney University's Honi Soit magazine in October 2015.
For Goodes, actions speaks volumes.
"I’m still going to keep up the fight for saying no to racism and making sure that we get constitutional recognition for our mob, and still going to be fighting hard for white ribbon, and really helping men take responsibility when we try to stop domestic violence against our women and our communities," he told the student journalist, Georgia Mantle, adding that as an ambassador for the Recognise Movement, constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians is high on his list of priorities.
Last week he married his long time partner Natalie Croker in a small ceremony with just 20 close friends and family on the NSW South Coast.
The couple became engaged in February and are reportedly planning a large wedding party for later in the year to celebrate.
Adam Goodes and his wife Natalie Croker at an event in February. Source: Getty
There's so many reasons for Adam Goodes to be on our list of "Best Blokes", but we don't need to tell you guys - you're the ones who voted for him.