Western Bulldogs forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan hopes his recreation of Nicky Winmar’s famous stance against racial abuse can help wipe out racism from the AFL. Ugle-Hagan has endured a torrid time since being racially abused by fans during and after his side’s round-two loss to St Kilda.
But the 20-year-old Indigenous star responded in sensational fashion on Thursday night, equalling his career-best haul of five goals to steer the Bulldogs to a 14-point win over Brisbane.
Ugle-Hagan turned to the Marvel Stadium crowd after his first goal, lifted his jumper and pointed to his skin, mirroring Winmar’s iconic gesture. It came almost 30 years to the day after Winmar stood up to racist abuse from Collingwood fans at Victoria Park in April 1993.
“Back in the day they would’ve had it a lot worse but now players are getting sick of it and they’re making a stance,” Ugle-Hagan said. “We’re calling them out and we’re sorting it out, and everyone’s getting behind our back nowadays.”
Earlier in the week, Ugle-Hagan’s mother Alice Ugle detailed the verbal abuse her son received from the crowd last Saturday.
“Those comments definitely hurt you as an individual,” Ugle-Hagan said. “You can hear a thousand compliments and then one bad comment you’re going to remember. But we’re making a stance and making an impact and hopefully we change and educate people who have no idea that racism’s not allowed and shouldn’t be a thing.”
Ugle-Hagan took time away from the club on Monday as he dealt with the situation. But he returned to his Bulldogs’ “family” and accepted an invitation to present Indigenous teammate Arthur Jones with his club jumper ahead of the 19-year-old’s debut.
Ugle-Hagan, the 2020 No 1 draft pick, has played 25 games for the Bulldogs. The AFL is investigating the incidents from the round-two contest and St Kilda have said the culprits will no longer be welcome at their games.
The Bulldogs, Saints and AFL all condemned the “harmful and abhorrent racist remarks” made against Ugle-Hagan and the young star urged fans to call out racist behaviour to help stamp it out.
“I just want to see someone point them out instead of me having to contact the club and saying this happened,” Ugle-Hagan said. “I’d rather someone in the [crowd] point it out and tell them, let them know that it’s not the right thing to say. That goes with any race, not just with Aboriginals and Indigenous boys and girls.”
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