What ‘people don’t realise’ about Latrell

The Rabbitohs’ indigenous players have praised the incredible impact teammate Latrell Mitchell has had in using his profile to agitate for social change, highlighting the issues that their people face on a daily basis.

Souths five-eighth Cody Walker said it was remarkable what a player of Mitchell’s still tender age had done for the Aboriginal community, using his influence, whether on or off the footy field, for good.

“I’m immensely proud of Latrell. What a lot of people don’t realise, or forget, is that he’s only 23 years of age, and to take this on himself is quite an amazing feat,” Walker told Wide World of Sports as part of an Indigenous Round special feature.

“He’s got so many supporters behind him – a wonderful family, a wonderful mum and dad – and so much support around him that he’s able to use his platform to raise these issues.

“I’m certainly one of his supporters and I have his back and I’ll always have his back.”

Mitchell, who is a Biripi & Wiradjuri man, has proudly represented his Aboriginal heritage and been outspoken on the many hurdles indigenous Australians still face. He also strives to give back to his community on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, whenever possible.

“I’ll always continue to be proud of who I am as a black man and as a person, and be proud of where I come from,” Mitchell told Wide World of Sports.

“I go back to my community in Taree and give back to the kids back there. Because I was once upon a time one of those kids, coming through without anything in front of me, no stepping stone to achieve something I’ve always wanted to achieve. By me doing what I’m doing I’m sort of giving those kids a sense of belief just so they know they can do it as well.”

Despite his indigenous advocacy sometimes being met with racism, Mitchell believes that his work, and initiatives like Indigenous Round, are making a change in Australia.

“Being an Aboriginal man you have to work twice as hard as the average Joe. It’s harder to get a job because of the colour of your skin or the education we can’t get, but it’s changing now,” he said.

“Education is a massive thing and learning, and everyone is coming to together and understanding what Australia is, what the history is and what the black history is, and the sooner we learn about that, the better and more positive things we will get out of everyday society.

“In the public eye, for me, taking leadership and doing what I do, I get a lot of positives out of it.”

Mitchell’s efforts are especially appreciated at the Rabbitohs, with the Redfern-based club having a long and proud relationship with the indigenous community around Australia.

“A lot of indigenous players see these blokes playing footy and they want to grow up to be just like them,” Braidon Burns told Wide World of Sports.

“You see Cody and Latrell play and how big of an impact they have in small, even rural communities. The kids want to be like those boys. And if that stops them from doing the wrong thing and getting bored and getting into drugs and alcohol and stuff like that then that’s an important thing.

“You see when Cody and Latrell go to those communities, they really get amongst it, chat to kids and try and help out.”

Dane Gagai said Mitchell and other high profile indigenous players are doing important work in changing how Australians view First Nations culture.

“I’m super proud to be able to say that I’m mates with these guys stuff their doing for Aboriginal communities is outstanding,” he said.

“I’m a proud Torres Strait Island man but I realise I’m on Aboriginal country and I respect that and I think it’s important to respect the people that came here first and I’ll do whatever I can to help them create awareness and just making people proud of the culture. That’s something us as Australians need to embrace and be really proud of.”

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