• Adam Goodes does a war dance. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The AFL says it's learnt its lesson after the Adam Goodes booing saga. But a new generation of young Indigenous footballers say they still expect to be the targets of racism.
By
Hannah Hollis

Source:
The Point
21 Mar 2016 - 7:09 PM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2016 - 7:09 PM

The 2016 season is days away from kicking off and the AFL has vowed to adopt a new approach to tackling racism.

An AFL spokesperson says the organisation is "committed to a number of initiatives" to prevent racism in the future.

"(The AFL will be) partnering with Recognise and other groups to ensure Australian football continues to educate the broader community about the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians, and the existence and impact of racism in society," the spokesperson says. 

The fallout from the Adam Goodes saga would "guide the AFL’s response to any further instances where Indigenous footballers are impacted by racism", they continued. 

'You've gotta have that good mindset to push it off and keep going.'

The comments come as a new wave of young Indigenous footballers kick off their careers at the Sydney Swans Academy.

Among them is 17-year-old Royce Close.

The Thungutti man says racism is still a major issue on the sporting field.

"It's in every sport, racism," he says. "You've gotta have that good mindset to push it off and keep going like Goodesy did."

Fellow Swans hopeful Chris Holten agrees, saying every top indigenous player will be the target of racism.

"It's just going to happen I guess," he says.

"(I'll) probably just ignore it most of the time and move on with the AFL."

In the AFL's annual report released last week, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan acknowledged the code didn’t act soon enough to protect Adam Goodes after the dual Brownlow medallist was the target of racial vilification last year.

Despite the election of an AFL Aboriginal Advisory council in 2014 the AFL had said it "couldn’t tell supporters how to behave" after Goodes took extended leave from the game after relentless abuse.

The season drew to a close and Goodes announced he was retiring but on Grand Final Day when those who have made extraordinary contributions to the game are publically farewelled, Goodes wasn’t there.

"By the time Adam retired, he had been subject to a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face," McLachlan wrote.

"The national conversation about racism taught me how important our role is to partner with all players to fight racism. Adam has led with courage and humility and I look forward to the day our game can properly celebrate the retirement of this great champion."

Watch: Meet the next generation of Indigenous footballers