Arthur Beetson is one of the all-time great rugby league players, and he is honoured in this Doodle created by guest artist Blak Douglas, who is based in NSW. Because of his extraordinary ball-handling skills, which altered modern athlete norms and rugby league standards, Beetson became well-known.
In 1945, Beetson was born in Roma, Queensland, also referred to as Gubbi Gubbi Country. His mother was stolen from her parents at the age of eleven and forced to work as a domestic servant. She is a survivor of the Stolen Generation. She frequently concealed Beetson and his siblings whenever a stranger’s car approached their house out of fear that her kids would meet the same fate.
When he was 19 years old, Beetson was signed to play football for the Redcliffe Dolphins after falling in love with the game as a child. Redcliffe won the Brisbane premiership shortly after, and in 1965, Beetson was voted club player of the year.
The government had only started accepting Indigenous people as Australian citizens six years prior, therefore Beetson’s appointment as captain of the Kangaroos, the Australia National Rugby League team, in 1973 marked a turning point for Indigenous representation. Indigenous groups in Australia were mostly shut out of society until that point.
As the captain of the Kangaroos in the 1975 World Series, Beetson established his reputation as one of the best players and leaders in the annals of Australian rugby league. Throughout his four-decade career, he broke records in 14 test matches, four World Club campaigns, 20 interstate matches, and 222 first-grade New South Wales Rugby League games. He then became a coach with the Queensland, Redcliffe Dolphins, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Eastern Suburbs, and Australia. In 2003, Beetson became one of the Immortals when he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.
You are grateful to Arthur Beetson for being a sporting legend for all Australians and for helping to level the playing field for Indigenous representation.