Jake Duke has interviewed dozens of incredible athletes, but one story about Latrell Mitchell stands out more than most.
Growing up in an Indigenous family and interviewing some of Australia’s biggest Aboriginal sports personalities, Fox League presenter Jake Duke is more aware than most of the hardships facing First Nations people.
Despite this, even he was shaken when Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell shared stories of racist abuse against Duke’s. refuse to lose podcast.
Stream every game from every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & Ad-Break Season Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try free for 14 days >
Originally booked as background interview for raw rabbits, which aired on Fox Sports ahead of last year’s NRL Indigenous Round, Birrbay and Wiradjuri man Mitchell sat down with Duke to detail the abuse he suffered on and off the pitch – some of which were from children.
“(That) your mom or dad teach you to go out of your way to say something like that to a person is shameful,” Mitchell said at the time.
“The way I thought calling people was a waste of energy after the first few moments I’ve just had enough and there’s a whole hate crimes unit at the police who are happy to help .
“It’s a cultural issue, there are people who can teach black history. You just have to stop being ignorant about it and just accept it.
Duke told news.com.au that, unfortunately, he was not surprised by Mitchell’s experience, but still found the extent of the abuse “incredible”.
“It’s hard to believe people can still say these things today…he just plays football, that’s his job,” he said.
Overcoming obstacles can trigger real change
refuse to lose saw Duke sit down with some of Australia’s most exciting athletes to discuss the struggles and obstacles they faced on their journey to the top, with several Indigenous superstars including Greg Inglis, Ash Gardner and Patty Mills , all featured in various episodes.
With the Indigenous rounds of the AFL and NRL, Duke said now is an opportunity for sports fans to focus on the adversity facing First Nations communities.
“Whether it was a tough upbringing, having to be away from family, or having no family at all, it seems like a lot of these people had more difficult stories than most,” said said Duke.
One example was Wests Tigers and former State of Origin player James Roberts, who Duke grew up with and also featured on the pilot episode of the podcast.
“He had a tough life growing up — he struggled with alcohol and drugs, moved from foster home to foster home, and even spent time in jail,” Duke said.
“His story has always stuck with me… he had discipline issues throughout his career, but I still think if people knew more about his life and what he went through, they would realize that he’s doing really well in comparison.
“(Indigenous Australians) have faced a tougher hand than a lot of people in this country, and they don’t always have a sport to help them through it…these athletes are voices for them and the change we want to see.”
Duke, a man from Kamilaroi, said there was a misconception that the struggles facing indigenous peoples largely belonged to a bygone era.
“There’s a notion that these tribulations that Indigenous Australians face go back a long time… my dad wasn’t allowed into Moree’s pool because of the color of his skin – that was a long time ago has a generation,” the Fox League presenter told the news. com.au.
“There are still a lot of scars and trauma and things that have been passed down.”
Importance of Indigenous athletes laid bare
Duke noted that sport, while not a cure for pre-existing inequalities, has always played a huge role in educating Australians about issues affecting Indigenous communities, as well as the culture and history of the people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“If you can name me the five most famous indigenous people in Australia, I think four of them are athletic,” he said.
“Because of the profile that sport gives people, Indigenous athletes end up being the most prominent people the community sees – if they’re not using their platform to raise awareness about these issues, then who will. do if not them?
“(Sport) plays a huge role in promoting the cause of Indigenous peoples and raising awareness – things like the Sir Doug Nicholls Round in the AFL aren’t just about celebrating athletes, they’re about… listen what these people care about and what is their story.
“Even just putting the country in the name of the stadiums… those little little things, it’s all part of a big change.”
When asked to name an entry point to his podcast for new listeners, Duke suggested Episode 10, a conversation with NRL great Preston Campbell, who was instrumental in creating the popular All-Star game.
The matchup, which was first held in 2010, features Indigenous athletes and traditionally opens the NRL season. The player deemed the best on the field receives the Preston Campbell Medal.
Duke noted that Campbell’s off-field mental health issues were indicative of a much larger issue facing Indigenous communities.
“Campbell was at the top of his game, he won the Dally M Medal for Player of the Year in 2001…and six months later he attempted to take his own life,” he said.
“His story resonates so much and applies so much to the lives of so many Aboriginal people.
“We talk about financial and social disadvantage, but the effect this has on the minds of young Aboriginal children is enormous.
“This is a major issue in Aboriginal communities – the statistics on young Aboriginal people and the likelihood of them committing suicide are overwhelming.