BEVAN French is a man with his own Australian Dream – to see racism eradicated from his homeland after being a victim himself.
The TV documentary of the same name highlighted the problems indigenous people down under face, featuring former Australian Rules player Adam Goodes.
But to Wigan star French, the taunts, the jibes and the discrimination are nothing unusual – they were just part of growing up.
Now he is getting older, he too is finding his voice to speak out about what he has faced and members of his community still have to contend with.
And his status as an athlete, as well as others like NRL star Latrell Mitchell, can only help the fight that escapes many people on this side of the world.
French said: “The things Adam’s going through and what he went through, there have been cases like that in Australia, not only involving myself but other indigenous people.
“The majority would have experienced something like that in their life. I’ve not been one to bring it out as before the Adam Goodes documentary, you learned to hold it in and deal with it.
“The things he talks about are definitely not news to indigenous Australians at all. It is to non-indigenous ones, though, and that movie’s done a great job.
“From a young age, you’re taught really not to call it out or talk about it. Not just racism but whatever goes on in your life.
“It’s not until you’re older you realise that starts to become a habit with a lot of problems you can have, which isn’t a good thing to do.
“Now it’s probably better to do the opposite and a lot of sports people, particularly rugby league players, have opened up. There was a case in the NRL recently where people were banned for life from going to games.
“I don’t think that would’ve happened before this documentary.
“It’s quite crazy. You don’t really hear about it and it’s not until people are in such a position to call it out, like Latrell Mitchell.
“He’s put it out on his social media platforms – he’s copped a bit of flak for doing that but it’s the right thing to do.”
French joined Wakefield’s David Fifita in taking a knee draped under an indigenous Australian flag before they faced each other three weeks ago.
But while the Black Lives Matter movement was recognised, it was done for another reason that goes largely unreported.
He added before facing Castleford today after the opponent was switched from Catalans Dragons: “We spoke about it beforehand. We definitely wanted to get behind that, not just for that protest but the number of indigenous Australian deaths in custody.
“It’s been such a high rate in Australia and there’s not really been any answers. It’s something we definitely wanted to take a stance for.”
Aside from problems in French’s homeland, Wigan as a town often gets slated for its own language – Wiganese – and dome of its culinary contributions – pies and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.
But at least it is not ‘the most boring place on Earth.’
For French hails from the tiny New South Wales town of Tingha, which has its own unique highlights.
He added: “There’s a lot happening in Wigan compared to Tingha, don’t worry about that.
“It only has 900 people and is quite deserted. Cattle literally walk the main street as there’s literally not much happening there!
“I pretty much come from the most boring place on Earth, so Wigan’s all right for me.”
Away from rugby league, French is a bit of a thinker, constantly reading books and listening to podcasts, mostly about self-improvement.
He told SunSport: “It’s how I like to spend my downtime, get my head away from rugby league a bit.
“You learn a lot and gain a bit of knowledge. It’s more about learning how certain people have dealt with certain things in their life and taking note from that.”
French is linked with a return to the NRL and Wigan boss Adrian Lam admits the decision is firmly in the 24-year-old’s court.
He said: “A lot of NRL clubs have come in for him. He needs to do what’s best for him and his family going forward.
“We want him to be here long term. If he does go, we would’ve done everything we can to keep him.”
Source: Read Full Article