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Adam Goodes named Australian of the Year

Adam Goodes of the Swans in action during the AFL 2nd Qualifying Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans at AAMI Stadium, Adelaide. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes in full flight last year
The award ... is recognition of making the right choices at the right time, standing up for who you are and what you believe in
Adam Goodes
ADAM Goodes wants to use his Australian of the Year title to further spread his message of standing up for what you believe in.
 
The two-time Sydney Swans premiership player was named the 2014 Australian of the Year on Saturday in Canberra, after being recognised for his work with indigenous youth through the Goodes O'Loughlin Foundation.
 
The first VFL-AFL footballer to be named Australian of the Year, the dual Brownlow medallist was selected from more than 3000 nominations submitted by the public.
 
He was named New South Wales’ Australian of the Year in November last year.
 
Goodes said Saturday's acknowledgment went "straight to the top" of his achievements and wanted to use the title to further inspire people to take strong stances.
 
"I think the biggest thing for me is to keep leading the way that I lead," Goodes told Channel 7's Sunrise on Sunday.
 
"The award of New South Wales, and of Australian of the Year is recognition of making the right choices at the right time, standing up for who you are and what you believe in.
 
"That's not going to change and I just look forward to being able to do that on a bigger stage now and hopefully get to as many people to have those conversations with and hopefully inspire others to do the same thing."
 
One of the AFL's most decorated indigenous players, Goodes took a stand to identify a member of the MCG crowd last season when he was racially abused against Collingwood in round nine.
 
When it was revealed he had been called an "ape" by a 13-year-old, he pushed for her to receive support and be given a chance.  
 
 
The National Australia Day Council said Goodes was chosen for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society.
 
Goodes said he wanted to be a strong role model for his younger brothers once he started playing football.
 
Having been inspired himself by his mother, Lisa, and indigenous players such as former Sydney Swans teammate Michael O'Loughlin and Gilbert McAdam, he wanted to set a similar standard.
 
"I think when you're the oldest of three boys and the oldest of any family, you pretty much have to be a good role model otherwise you get the wrath of the parents, that you're supposed to know better," he said.
 
"That definitely happened for me growing up, so that sort of role has always been handed upon me.
 
"I just took it in my stride and it's just something that today I'm really happy to be a role model and someone for people to look up to."
 
Goodes' brother Brett, who plays for the Bulldogs, expressed his pride via Twitter on Saturday night:

 
Goodes admitted Sunday's Australia Day celebrations prompted mixed emotions after he learnt the full story of the country's settlement in regards to his own heritage when he was younger.
 
However, he said there were still reasons to celebrate his culture on January 26.
 
"There was a lot of anger, a lot of sorrow, for this day and very much the feeling of invasion day," he said.
 
"But in the last five years, I've really changed my perception of what is Australia Day, of what it is to be Australian and for me, it's about celebrating the positives, that we are still here as indigenous people, our culture is one of the longest surviving cultures in the world, over 40,000 years.
 
"That is something we need to celebrate and all Australians need to celebrate.
 
"There are people out there thinking that today is a great day for Australia - well, it is.
 
"It's a day we celebrate over 225 years of European settlement and right now, that's who we are as a nation but we also need to acknowledge our fantastic Aboriginal history of over 40,000 years and just know that some Aboriginal people out there today are feeling a little bit angry, a little bit soft in the heart today because of that, and that's OK as well."
 
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the dual Brownlow medallist had brought great honour to the game.
 
"On behalf of the AFL Commission, our clubs and the wider game, the AFL is delighted and honoured that Adam Goodes has been recognised as the 2014 Australian of the Year," Demetriou said.
 
"Adam Goodes has been a brilliant player of our game for 15 years but his work off the field as a leading member of our community, seeking to assist and inspire young people, has truly defined him as a great Australian.
 
"Adam is a great ambassador for his people, the Sydney Swans and our game, and is a leader in reconciliation and bringing all Australian together.
 
"We congratulate him on his recognition as the Australian of the Year and we know he will continue to lead the way for a better country for all Australians."
 
Goodes has played a club record 331 games Swans since 1999 and sits second behind Adelaide champion Andrew McLeod for most games (340) by an indigenous player.
 
A dual premiership player (2005 and 2012), he won the Brownlow Medal in 2003 and 2006 and has been named All Australian four times (2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011).
  
The Goodes O'Loughlin Foundation focuses on education, employment and healthy lifestyles and aims to empower the next generation of indigenous role models in all walks of life.
 
Goodes said he was touched by the support and congratulations he had received since Saturday's announcement.
 
"It was just so nice. For all the people who have contacted me in the last 12 hours, thank you so much for the support," he said.
 
"You've all had a massive impact on my life."