THE Wimmera has weighed in on the controversy surrounding former Horsham footballer Adam Goodes.
The Sydney Swans player and dual Brownlow Medallist has been consistently booed at AFL matches this year.
Goodes sparked controversy earlier this season when he celebrated a goal by doing a war dance.
Team-mate Lewis Jetta recreated the dance during the Swans’ match against West Coast at the weekend.
On Monday, AFL commentator Gerard Whateley said the booing was shameful, and worried it could force Goodes into retirement.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan called for crowds to stop targeting Goodes.
Horsham’s Brett Harrison, who is close to the Goodes family, said the booing was disrespectful and disheartening.
“Even going to the football to watch Adam and having to listen to it is bad,” he said.
“He is one of the greats of the modern game. The continued bad treatment of him is unacceptable.”
Mr Harrison said he hoped Goodes did not retire as a result.
”To end an illustrious career on such a low - it wouldn't be right,” he said.
Video: Greg Schultz has a message for the footy community
Wimmera Football League chief commissioner Greg Schultz said he felt for Goodes.
“I know Adam and his family very well. I have sent him some texts of support,” he said.
“People being vocal is part of the game, but it’s over the top with Adam, and I don’t like it or condone it.”
“It's disappointing to see an ambassador from our area and an ambassador for the game being treated like that.”
Mr Schultz said the Wimmera league had a proud indigenous history.
“We have always supported indigenous players and always will,” he said.
“The league is enriched by its Aboriginal players.”
Mr Schultz said he did not think the AFL had a great deal of control over fans booing.
“All they can really do is ask people to think twice at games,” he said.
“Booing at football is something that I grew up with as a kid. You don’t get too many spectators at country footy, but it’s always there, and more prevalent in finals.
“The bigger the crowd, the more vocal it is.”
Horsham College VCAL literacy students have been studying Goodes, and wrote a letter to the Mail-Times about the issue.
Teacher Daniel Marget’s class said the public seemed divided.
“There are those who believe that Adam is the victim of racial abuse, whilst there are others who believe that Adam should take the taunts on the chin and stop making such a big deal out of the matter,” they said.
“Adam himself has publicly stated that he finds the booing to be very hurtful and that he is considering retiring from the game as a result.
“We as a society should be here to support Adam through his struggle and look to move forward in a positive and accepting way.”
Read the full letter here.
Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative chairman and community services manager John Gorton said a lot of people in the Wimmera had a close association with Goodes and felt for him.
“If you look at social media comments, a lot of them have a go at his character, which I think is unfair given the stuff he does as part of his foundation,” he said.
“When he won Australian of the Year, I presume a lot of people didn't like that he was outspoken about indigenous issues.
“For some reason people don't want to acknowledge the past.
“Adam has always been a stand-up person for raising indigenous issues and doing the right thing.”
Mr Gorton said he spoke to Goodes’ brother Jake about 18 months ago when he first noticed crowds starting to boo the Swans star.
“Now it’s every game – it’s out of control,” he said.
“Even if it isn't racial undertones, someone suggested to me that it could be considered extreme bullying at its worst. Before then I had never though of it like that.
“It's just a shame he can't finish his career the way he'd like to finish it, if it is over.”
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