Former Adelaide star Eddie Betts has opened up on the club’s infamous 2018 pre-season camp, revealing that he was dropped from the club’s leadership group after voicing concerns over what went on.
Betts addressed the camp in his autobiography, The Boy from Boomerang Crescentwhich is set to be released on Wednesday, saying it resulted in him feeling “like a piece of me was brainwashed”.
The indigenous AFL icon touched on a disturbing initiation exercise which saw the camp instructors hurling verbal abuse at him as he attempted to free himself from a body harness using a nearby knife.
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“Things were yelled at me that I had disclosed to the camp’s ‘counsellors’ about my upbringing. All the people present heard these things,” Betts wrote, per The Age.
“I was exhausted, drained and distressed about the details being shared. Another camp-dude jumped on my back and started to berate me about my mother, something so deeply personal that I was absolutely shattered to hear it come out of his mouth.”
Betts and the club’s other indigenous players were also left deeply disturbed by the appropriation of a First Nations people’s ritual of a ‘talking stick’.
“In my view, the talking stick was used incorrectly, and I was not aware that any Elder had given permission for it to be used either,” he wrote.
“There was all sorts of weird shit that was disrespectful to many cultures, but particularly and extremely disrespectful to my culture.”
Betts says he discussed what had taken place at the camp with Aboriginal elders as well as with his indigenous teammates, and attempted to have the program discontinued in order to protect other players from having to go through the torturous experience.
“After a meeting with all the Blackfullas at the club, I decided to address the playing group and talk about how I found the camp, mainly addressing the cultural safety implications for us brothers,” he wrote.
“I sought permission to remove all the Aboriginal boys from any further interactions with the ‘leadership specialists’ and their mind-training exercises. I told the club I wouldn’t be involved in any more mind-training exercises at all.”
Just three weeks later, Betts was dropped from the club’s leadership group, a decision that devastated him.
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The impact of the horrific pre-season camp on Betts is evident when looking at his numbers from the season that immediately followed.
After being named in the All-Australian team in the previous three seasons having kicked 193 goals across those three years, Betts managed just 29 goals in 18 appearances in 2018.
Betts spent one more year in Adelaide before securing a trade back to Carlton at the end of the 2019 season, where he spent the twilight of his AFL career before returning to the Crows at the end of last season.
The pre-season camp decimated the Crows, who had finished minor premiers at the end of the home and away season in 2017. Since that season the club has recorded finishes of 12th, 11th, 18th, 15th and 15th.
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