AFL great Eddie Betts has revealed just how damaging the Adelaide Crows training camp held in 2018 was.
The infamous leadership camp, following the Crows’ 2017 AFL Grand Final loss at the hands of Richmond, thrust the club into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
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A number of players and officials walked away from the club in the wake of the camp and now Betts has detailed even more behind the scenes information in his upcoming autobiography ‘The Boy from Boomerang Crescent’.
The four-day camp held on the Gold Coast left Betts feeling “like a piece of me was brainwashed” with excerpts being reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Betts revealed confidential information he had shared in counseling sessions had been misused while writing that the camp misappropriated sensitive Aboriginal cultural rituals.
“The camp ended up appropriating a First Nations peoples’ ritual of a ‘talking stick’ and attempting to apply it to all of us, even the non-Indigenous players and coaches,” he wrote.
“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.
“There was all sorts of weird shit that was disrespectful to many cultures, but particularly and extremely disrespectful to my culture.”
Betts confirmed the Richmond theme song was played repeatedly during a training session and he was put in a body harness and told to fight his way towards a knife as camp instructors hurled verbal abuse his way.
“Things were yelled at me that I had disclosed to the camp’s ‘counsellors’ about my upbringing. All the people present heard these things,” he wrote.
“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.”
Following the now infamous camp, Betts approached the club and voiced his concerns with the camp and said he wouldn’t take part in any future mind-training exercises. Three weeks later he was dropped from the leadership group.
“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,” Betts revealed.
“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.”
The camp had a major impact on Betts’ on-field form and left the star forward questioning his place in the game. Betts left the Crows and returned to Carlton at the end of 2019 before retiring at the end of 2021.
The Crows were cleared of any work health and safety breaches after an independent investigation into the training camp by SafeWork SA.