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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains the names of people who are deceased.
Sydney Swans legend Adam Goodes says the only regret in his life is not being able to save his late mother from experiencing the trauma of the Stolen Generations.
The 2014 Australian of the Year has opened up in a rare interview, having a wide-ranging chat with England soccer legend Rio Ferdinand.
Goodes revealed his beloved mother, Lisa Sansbury, died of a heart attack in February 2022, aged 62.
The dual Brownlow medallist regularly thinks about what his family’s life would be like had his mother not been exposed to systemic and horrific racism practices growing up.
The removal of Indigenous children from their families was an official government policy in Australia until 1969, and in some states it continued into the 1970s.
The state of Adam Goodes unveiled last week.Credit: Getty
“I think I like to live my life with no regrets,” Goodes told the Get Real with Rio WeAre8 YouTube series.
“Unfortunately, she had a really tough life. She looked after me and my brothers, two younger brothers by herself, a single parent most of her life; did an incredible job, but she had a lot of trauma from her childhood.
“She was taken away when she was five, put into a white family, like a lot of her siblings were and she didn’t know at the time that she was one of 10 (children).
“That’s the reason why I wasn’t connected to my Aboriginality (early in life) because of that disconnect when she was five.
Goodes famously took his late mother as his date to the 2003 Brownlow Medal count.Credit: Getty
“It just breaks my heart to think that she was living in fear her whole life that someone could knock on the door and take her kids away at any moment if she wasn’t doing the right thing by us kids.
“So if I could go back and change anything, I would just love to have gone back to my mum’s life, and in that moment, change the fact that she was taken (away from her family).”
Goodes also spoke to Ferdinand about rediscovering soccer after his retirement from the AFL after being passionate about it as a child.
The 43-year-old remains heavily involved in the GO Foundation, an organisation he created with fellow Swans legend Michael O’Loughlin to give education opportunities to Indigenous youth.
“If I’m only known for football, I’ve failed,” Goodes said.
The dual Swans premiership player has largely stayed out of the spotlight since his retirement, remaining distraught about the AFL’s treatment of him during the infamous booing saga that marred his final season in 2015.
Goodes has repeatedly knocked back an invitation to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame, where he could one day be elevated to legend status if he accepts.
Last Friday, Sydney unveiled a bronze sculpture of the Indigenous superstar performing his famous war cry during a match in 2015.
The Goodes interview is the latest in a series of videos Ferdinand has filmed with high-profile athletes WeAre8, following on from his discussion with Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins earlier this month.
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