Hawthorn Football Club President Jeff Kennett has penned the below letter to members...
Good afternoon members one and all.
We are at the halfway mark of the season.
On field it has been a challenging year. One win, one loss is the pattern we have delivered to be at five wins and six losses for the season to date.
Certainly not where we want to be, but it is what it is. We cannot change the past so we focus on what we can change, and that is the future.
It is not for lack of trying, and no one or team can be top of the pile every week and every year.
I personally am very encouraged with what we are putting together in terms of our mix of players.
The experience of Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Scully is showing through. The efforts of Jarman Impey, James Worpel, James Sicily, Ricky Henderson, to name a few, are all exciting. Put them together with Liam Shiels, Shaun Burgoyne, Jonathon Ceglar, Ben McEvoy and our future looks bright.
Right now, the football department and many within the administration are having a break given we have the bye next weekend.
Just as we all need our holidays, so too do our players, coaches and administration staff need a rest from what is a very full on program once the season starts.
You might all see over the next few weeks the two documentaries about Adam Goodes, and how he was the target of so much abuse that he retired from the game altogether.
I have previously met Adam and recently spoken to our Indigenous players, and believe these two films will help us better understand the discrimination that has been shown, to various degrees over many years to our First Peoples, and many of our new arrivals to this country, be they of European, African or Asian origin.
When I led Beyond Blue, we put together a powerful campaign addressing discrimination and racism.
There should be no place for such in our community. Importantly it is often very hurtful for those it is directed at, particularly when it is directed consistently.
The best way to think of it is to put yourself in the shoes of those such comments or action is directed at. To look at it through their eyes.
That is what the two documentaries on Adam Goodes does. And don’t forget, many of our Indigenous people, not just sportsmen and women, have been subjected to such discrimination all their lives.
So, having watched the first documentary, I consider it to be another important wake up call to all of us to treat each other with respect.
We can’t, and I would not as your President, tell you or anyone how to behave. It is up to everyone to set their own standards. But discrimination and worse - deliberate racism - is unacceptable.
On the sporting field, or worse from the crowd, because often an individual would never discriminate, but from the safety of the crowd, where one can hide, often we behave differently, but we should not.
I am often asked the question, “if you had one wish what would you wish for?”
My answer has always been, and remains so, “eliminate discrimination in all its forms”. The world would be a much better place.
Not just against colour, but gender, age, body size, employment and so the list goes on.
So, if you get the opportunity, please watch the Adam Goodes documentaries. Do so with an open mind. Try and see his side of his life’s journey, then ask yourself how would you feel if you were subjected to such discrimination for much of your life?
Please note, that is not to say football crowds should not applaud good performances, or boo bad performances. Heavens forbid, the AFL has so changed the game I hardly recognise it today. We need crowd participation, but such interactions should be based solely on performance, not colour, gender or race.
We all know in 25 years there will be more players of mixed race playing than ever before - just look at American basketball.
So, given the importance of football to all of us, we must learn to respect each other, and direct our comments to those based solely on the performance of individuals and teams.
That said, let’s hope our players and coaches come back refreshed ready for the second half of the season.
Have a good day.
Hawthorn Football Club