After watching The Final Quarter documentary about Adam Goodes earlier this year, a number of indigenous AFL players considered threatening to walk away from the game in the face of racism.
In 2013, Goodes took a stand against racist crowds and was effecively booed into retirement two years later.
Ian Darling documented and made the film with Goodes’ blessing after watching him get consistently booed in the 2014 grand final.
There are more than 70 indigenous players currently playing at AFL level, and after viewing the documentary together in Adelaide in February the group immediately started brainstorming what to do if the events that happened to Goodes repeated.
“There was a sense of everyone having let down Adam and wanting to make sure they never let down one of their brothers again,” Darling told The Age.
“It wasn’t the Indigenous players’ fault in the slightest but there they were taking a sense of responsibility.
“Conversations were being had – Do we sit down (on the field)? Do we get the players of both sides going up to the sections that are booing and saying, ‘We will walk off the field if you do it’?”
The documentary was seen by every AFL club before it was released to the public, and Darling has praised the support the AFL have had with the film.
Darling believes this sort of situation could “absolutely” happen again, but also believes the “glacial change” to making making Australia a more tolerant society has already begun.
“Already you can see the conversation in social media, it’s a very different conversation and the trolls and those being so negative have almost been, not shouted down, but factually controlled down,” Darling said.
“I think there will be some direct action from the AFL but as much as anything, in the stands you’ll get an instant response from people having the courage to tell someone to stop booing.
“Or if someone is booing themselves they’ll recognise it.”