Australian Rules-Ugle-Hagan echoes Winmar’s stand against racist abuse

MELBOURNE : Indigenous Australian Rules player Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has made a defiant stand in his first game since being subject to racist abuse, celebrating scoring his first goal by raising his shirt and pointing to his skin.

The gesture was an echo of his fellow Indigenous player Nicky Winmar’s stand three decades ago, which is widely considered a landmark moment in the fight against racism in the Australian Football League (AFL).

Ugle-Hagan was abused by a fan during an AFL match against St Kilda last weekend and was emotional after scoring five goals as his Western Bulldogs beat Brisbane Lions at the same Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium on Thursday.

“I did want to make a stance, I wanted to show my presence,” the 20-year-old forward said in an on-field interview.

“Obviously, what happened last weekend was a pretty hard time.

“I just wanted to go out there and make the point that I’m a just a boy trying to play football like all the other Indigenous boys,” he added before the emotion overwhelmed him.

The racist abuse against Ugle-Hagan was condemned by the AFL, the Bulldogs and St Kilda clubs.

Winmar said in a statement on Friday he was proud of Ugle-Hagan for “standing up for himself” and that he was happy to “pass the baton” to younger generations of Indigenous players to reinforce the stand he made in 1993.

Racial abuse directed at Aboriginal Australians was commonplace when Winmar made his gesture and although matters have improved, the former St Kilda player said there should be no complacency.

“Things are getting better, with increased awareness, and kids are getting educated in schools now about racism in sport and in society, which is great,” the 57-year-old continued.

“There’s still a few who can’t control their negative attitudes, all we can do is keep supporting each other, and keep calling it out.”

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