• AFL great, Nicky Winmar takes a knee during Yokayi Footy Show. (NITV)Source: NITV
The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired AFL greats and players to take a stance against racism and black deaths in custody ahead of football’s restart tonight, where players from both sides will take a knee.
Douglas Smith

11 Jun 2020 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 11 Jun 2020 - 4:15 PM

During last night's episode of Yokayi Footy, AFL great Nicky Winmar unzipped his jacket to reveal a t-shirt with George Floyd's face. He said "I've got to do this to let people know" before he took a knee.

Mr Winmar, who's played 251 games of AFL football, is well known for the day he drew a line in the sand and called out racial abuse from Collingwood supporters during a 1993 game at Victoria Park.

The gesture and stance he took that day have been described as one of the most memorable images in Australian sporting history.

His gesture was to pay his respect to George Floyd and his family, after Mr Floyd died in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis on May 25. 

"You see the heartaches and hurts of the people around the world at the moment," said Mr Winmar.

"It's gotta be stopped, and we've gotta make our point across to people. Our next generation, what are they going to think of this?

"To our mob back home in Australia….we see that happening, it's pretty sad, and it's got to be stopped as well."

Mr Winmar's gesture came off the back of a video showing Melbourne Demon's Head Coach, Simon Goodwin giving a talk to his players during a training session.

Mr Goodwin, who played 345 games of AFL before being inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2017, told his players that the Black Lives Matter message had to be more "prevalent" within his playing group.

"Obviously there's a global movement going on around the world and the fight against racism," said Mr Goodwin.

"It's a real important message, but it needs to be more prevalent for us as role models in the community. If you don't think it's happening in Australia, it is….it is."

Mr Goodwin reminded his players that the number of Indigenous people who have died in custody is above 430 before he told them how close to home the issue hits for one of their own players, Neville Jetta. 

"And you want to know how close it's happening here, Nev's wife Sam, her aunty was one of the five that passed away last year in police custody," he said. 

"So when we look at places around the world, and what's going on there, it's happening here."

Mr Goodwin went to say that the fight against racism and black deaths in custody was something Indigenous players had been standing against already, but "non-indigenous people" had to do more. 

"What's been happening here for a long time, is Indigenous players, Indigenous people have been fighting against this for a long time, but it's not their fight anymore, it's our fight," he said. 

"Power will come from non-Indigenous people making a stand. That's where the power will come, and that's what it's about right now, that we unite together and fight together."

Before tonight's clash between the Richmond Tigers and Collingwood Magpies, players are expected to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

During an interview on ABC Radio, Collingwood Football Club CEO, Mark Anderson said the players led the gesture.

"It's something they felt strongly about, and we certainly strongly support them doing so," said Mr Anderson.

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