• Adam Goodes sparked controversy for performing a war cry during the AFL Indigenous Round in May 2015 (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The imaginary spear that Adam Goodes was criticised for 'throwing' as part of a war cry he performed during a game at the AFL Indigenous round in May, was in fact a boomerang, says the designer of the war cry.
Andrea Booth, Natalie Ahmat

3 Aug 2015 - 2:39 PM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2015 - 4:22 PM

Mark Yettica-Paulson, a mentor to 15-year-old Indigenous AFL squad the Flying Boomerangs, told NITV News that Adam Goodes mimed throwing a boomerang as part of a war-cry he performed during a game against Carlton at the AFL Indigenous Round in May.

The war-cry, which was developed by an Indigenous youth football development team with the goal of reflecting the spirit of AFL and maintaining culture, sparked controversy after it was subjected to criticism from media personalities such as Eddy McGuire.

"We're not going to stand still as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we've got lots of culture here," said Mr Yettica-Paulson. "We came with the idea the move is around brandishing a boomerang, it is one with the long part and a very short part like a number seven," he said.

"Adam said to the boys, 'You are the first guys to have taught me an Aboriginal dance'. Those 15-year-old boys just felt so proud, you know, they left the room 10-foot tall"

Mr Yettica-Paulson said the cry that was developed as a call to contest intended to reflect the words "strong", "fast" and "hunting".

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"We are the flying boomerangs, we’re the boomerangs, this is us, and we are coming after you … strong, fast, hunting," he said. "If you look at the context of sport, team sport, AFL in particular, 'strong, fast, hunting' is a brilliant analogy."

He said it was part of his vision for First Australians to foster pride in their cultures. "What's important to note is that for these 15-year-old boys, identity, and for Indigenous boys, the identity crisis is looming always.

"But for them to develop something that would get them so proud of themselves, their language their culture their heritage."

In 2011, the Flying Boomerangs were given the opportunity to show the AFL Indigenous All Stars, including Mr Goodes, the dance that they had choreographed with Mr Yettica-Paulson.

Mr Yettica-Paulson said that Adam Goodes was a powerful role model for young men and for him to perform the dance at the AFL Indigenous Round in May helped instill pride in their culture.

Since colonisation, First Australians have been subjected to a series of polices that have suppressed cultural practices. The policy of assimilation in 1961 was adopted by federal and state governments and was intended to ensure that Indigenous peoples would practice the same manner of living as non-Indigenous Australians.  

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"Adam said to the boys, 'You are the first guys to have taught me an Aboriginal dance'," he said. "Those 15-year-old boys just felt so proud, you know, they left the room 10-foot tall."

He said that the vitriol towards Mr Goodes for displaying cultural pride and standing up against racism is a sign that Australia needs to have more conversations about race and better address racial issues.

"It shouldn't be the question about why are they doing this," he said, "It should be the question about why can’t they. Why can’t they as young Indigenous athletes show a sense of strength of pride and culture, and why can’t we as Australians embrace this."

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