But Betts, a three-time All-Australian player, wrote that he would have to live for the rest of his life with the shame of having participated in some of the more confronting exercises conducted at the camp, run by a group he has chosen not to name.
Betts described the camp as “weird” and “completely disrespectful” and left him feeling “like a piece of me was brainwashed”.
In his book, Betts says that confidential information he had given in a private counseling session on the camp had been misused, and that the camp co-opted sensitive Aboriginal cultural rituals that offended him, jeopardized the wellbeing of other, younger Indigenous players within the Crows’ playing squad, and affected his family life. He said it led to his lack of form in 2018 that ultimately prompted him to leave the Crows.
Silvers said he had exchanged text messages with Betts on Wednesday, with a more detailed chat to be had later in the week.
“Six years [Betts] lit up the Adelaide Oval. For a long period of time, Eddie, Anna and the family have been an integral part of the club. So, what I read I was actually saddened to read it. People’s welfare and well-being is paramount to our club. So I’m sorry to read the coverage,” Silvers said.
“I don’t want to speak on his behalf. It’s, obviously, hurt him in a number of ways. But like I said, I’m a new leader at this footy club. I wasn’t there at the time. We’ve got a number of new pillars here, we’ve got a new head coach, new head of footy, new chair, new CEO. I like to feel we’re moving in a different direction. And we’d love to see Eddie and his family back at our club.”
Ricciuto, who said he hopes Betts “is moving on”, is again in the spotlight, with Silvers asked whether the former club skipper should step down from the club board.
“I don’t think it’s my place to speak about a director of our board, that’s probably more the chair’s. But what I’ll say about Mark is that he’s a passionate person. He’s delivered both on and off the field. He’s been a really strong footy director and a great support for me.”
Ricciuto, a Crows champion and premiership player, said on Triple M Adelaide that the club had already admitted the camp was not executed perfectly despite the good intentions of those planning it. However, he said he was sad to hear of Betts’ experience.
“We all love Eddie and we hope Eddie is getting over that. That was four years ago. Certainly, the club moved on from that and are looking towards the future and have made a lot of ground since then. It has come up in Eddie’s book and that is fair enough. Hopefully, Eddie is moving on as well and the club can move on to bigger and better things,” Ricciuto said.
“It’s sad to hear Eddie write that because he has been one of the greats of the football club.”
Betts, a Wirangu, Kokatha and Guburn man, who is a father of five, said he returned from the camp with feelings of shame and humiliation that left him angry, paranoid, secretive and “feeling drained and lethargic”.
It was on the eve of the 2017 finals that the mind-training instructors instigated the “the power stance”, Betts wrote, which meant all 22 Crows players and coach Don Pyke stood with their arms down, slightly away from their sides, in a commanding posture, designed to try and intimidate the opposition.
The group that ran the camp has previously said it recognized ″that some parts of the camp did not resonate with some players″.
A SafeWork SA investigation in 2021 made no findings of any wrongdoing against the mind-training specialists, while a previous AFL investigation cleared the club.
Betts left the Crows after the 2019 campaign and finished his career at Carlton, where he had spent the first nine years of his career.
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