Nation Rallies Behind Nine-Year-Old Jarmiles Gardiner After Racism Incident

Nation Rallies Behind Nine-Year-Old Jarmiles Gardiner After Racism Incident

The heart-wrenching video of nine-year-old Jarmiles Gardiner in tears after experiencing racism at a local football training session has resonated deeply across Australia. In response, an outpouring of support has come from every corner of the country, highlighting the collective desire to stand against racism and promote unity. Nation Rallies Behind Nine-Year-Old Jarmiles Gardiner After Racism Incident

Support from the Sydney Swans

Among those who extended a hand of support was the Sydney Swans, spearheaded by their First Nations strategy and player development manager, Jarred Hodges, a proud Gwamu and Kooma man. Hodges reached out to Jarmiles’ club, the Maitland Saints, offering assistance to help heal the community and support Jarmiles.

Following discussions with Saints President Matt Norris, Hodges arranged for Jarmiles and his teammates to experience a special day at the SCG, attending the Sydney Swans vs. Geelong Cats blockbuster on June 9. For many of the kids and their families, it was their first time witnessing a live AFL game.

“Initial reactions from all the kids and parents was ‘it was the best day ever and they’ll never forget it,'” Mr. Norris shared. “Jarmiles, his family, and all involved said how good it was. Jarmiles was at training last week, played on the weekend, and had another friend sign up, which is another positive. We’re looking to move forward and let the kids be good and get back to playing football.”

A Day of Healing and Connection

The team departed Maitland at 9:30 am and arrived at the Swans’ headquarters by noon. They participated in a skills clinic and attended a session on respectful relationships, emphasizing the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive team environment. Swans players Callum Mills, Sam Reid, Robbie Fox, and Angus Sheldrick spoke to the young athletes about the qualities of a good team and teammates.

“Once I knew the facts, it was about putting something together, particularly from a cultural lens that could assist in the healing process,” Mr. Hodges explained. “Following cultural ways, that’s something that would include everyone from the team. Because not only does this affect Jarmiles, but the ripple effect is felt far and wide.”

Memorable Moments

Jarmiles was presented with a signed 2024 Indigenous jumper and a game ball from the Marngrook game. It was also announced that he would run out onto the field with the Swans, choosing five teammates to join him as part of the guard of honour. The team enjoyed the Swans vs. Geelong game in front of a sellout crowd and were invited into the change rooms to meet the players after the Swans’ victory, even getting to sing the team song.

“We spoke about the importance of connection, and their exercise was to get three mates and come up with a unique handshake for each mate,” Mr. Hodges said. “So these kids will get to training and have their three buddies they have a handshake with and already be connected.”

Moving Forward with Positivity

Creating a stronger team environment remains a significant focus for both the Swans and the Saints. “We’ve got such a positive outcome because we dealt with what’s a serious and sensitive issue, but we’ve dealt with it to make sure the kids can walk away with something,” Mr. Hodges emphasized.

Jarmiles’ mother expressed her gratitude, saying he had the best day and is now looking forward to returning to training and playing this week. The community’s response to Jarmiles’ experience not only highlights the importance of addressing racism but also underscores the power of solidarity and support in creating lasting change.

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