'Drive real change': Powerful gesture planned for AFL restart

Seen here, Western Bulldogs layers kneel at training in support of the BLM movement.
Players will take a knee before the AFL restart in support of the BLM movement. Pic: AAP

Richmond and Collingwood players will take a knee before their AFL clash to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The gesture has been ticked off by both clubs and the AFL as the Victorian rivals relaunch the season after a three-month break at the MCG on Thursday night.

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A player-led initiative, the Tigers and Magpies are determined to take a united stand for the worldwide cause against systemic racism.

"There were discussions (on Wednesday) and came from the playing group that both teams felt strongly about," Magpies chief executive Mark Anderson told ABC Radio.

"Certainly both our clubs are endorsing and supportive of our players doing that and they'll do that just before the bounce. We strongly support them doing so."

AFL Players' Association (AFLPA) CEO Paul Marsh said he hoped the gesture would help spread awareness about the importance of racial equality.

Pictured here, Collingwood and Richmond in action in the AFL.
Collingwood and Richmond players will show their support for racial equality before Thursday night's game. Pic: Getty

"The AFL Players’ Association is proud of the leadership shown by the league’s Indigenous players, and the playing group more broadly, in signalling their intention to support the Black Lives Matter movement during Round 2,” Marsh said in a statement.

"We encourage the community to support the players by investing in building a greater understanding of the issues that have led to them taking this action.

"Unfortunately, racism still plagues our community and we hope this moment helps to better educate as well as making it clear to all that discrimination in any form is completely unacceptable."

The BLM movement has received widespread support in the footy community, with prominent Indigenous stars hitting out against racism and clubs demonstrating their backing for the movement with wonderful displays of unity.

AFL Players Association president Patrick Dangerfield said footballers felt a responsibility for the support not to be "tokenistic".

"I think it's being there for them (AFL's Indigenous players), that they're comfortable with everything that's happening but also how can we improve it?" the Geelong superstar told reporters.

"How can it be something more than that, that's ongoing and we facilitate and really drive real change within all Australians."

Racism thrust back into spotlight in AFL

The issue of racism in the AFL has been thrust into the spotlight this week after former Collingwood star Heritier Lumumba claimed the club ignored his concerns during a 10-year stint at the club.

Lumumba, who retired from football in 2016 after repeated concussion problems, said he endured a "culture of racist jokes" at the Magpies and that coach Nathan Buckley had not supported him when he spoke out against president Eddie McGuire in 2013.

Heritier Lumumba says Collingwood failed to adequately address his concerns about racism during his time at the footy club. Pic: Getty
Heritier Lumumba says Collingwood failed to adequately address his concerns about racism during his time at the footy club. Pic: Getty

"I spoke out against McGuire's racism on 28/5/2013 and was ostracised internally for doing so, particularly from Buckley, who stated, 'You threw the president under the bus'," Lumumba wrote.

The premiership-winning player's claims come with Black Lives Matters protests taking place in the United States after the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Similar rallies followed in Australia last weekend and across the world.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started the practice of kneeling during the United States national anthem before NFL games in 2016.

He was later let go by the San Francisco franchise and has been out of work in the NFL ever since.

with Yahoo Sport staff