‘Determined to learn from the past’: Crows pen open letter on disastrous pre-season camp

Adelaide Crows chairman John Olsen and CEO Tim Silvers have penned an open letter to the club’s members and fans, apologising to Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, “and any other player, coach or staff member, who had a negative experience” during the now infamous 2018 pre-season camp.

Olsen and Silvers wrote they are “committed to emerging from this painful and challenging period and getting better,” adding “while we cannot rewrite history, we remain determined to learn from the past”.

Adelaide Crows chief executive Tim Silvers addressed the media in relation to Eddie Betts’ comments on the club’s 2018 pre-season camp.Credit:Nine

In addition to offering an apology to Betts and Jenkins, the club also said sorry to Bryce Gibbs – the third former Crow to speak publicly on issues surrounding the Gold Coast camp organised by Collective Mind.

“We are sorry to hear Bryce Gibbs express his disappointment at the way in which the camp and events surrounding it were handled and its impact on the playing group, and we acknowledge there are others who may feel the same way,” Olsen’s and Silvers’ letter, published on the Crows’ website on Monday night, reads.

“The most important thing we can do now is listen and offer our support.

“We know that moving on as a club will be difficult. Everyone will do it in their own time and in their own way, and we sincerely hope that with the passage of time the healing process can take place.

“There has been a significant amount of change at our club over the past couple of years.
“Most notably, the key leadership positions of chairman, chief executive officer, men’s senior coach, and men’s head of football have all changed hands.”

Olsen and Silvers also said it has been “confronting to hear Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins describe their experiences during the 2018 pre-season training camp on the Gold Coast, as well as the subsequent hurt they have carried”.

In his new autobiography, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent, Betts, a three-time All-Australian player and four-time AFL goal of the year winner, says the secretive four-day camp held on the Gold Coast left him feeling “like a piece of me was brainwashed”.

In the book, Betts writes that confidential information he had given in a private counselling session had been misused during the camp and that the camp co-opted sensitive Aboriginal cultural rituals that offended him, jeopardised the wellbeing of other, younger Indigenous players within the Crows, and affected his family life. He blamed it for a lack of form in 2018 that ultimately prompted him to leave the Crows.

The Adelaide Crows’ open letter

Adelaide Football Club Chairman John Olsen and CEO Tim Silvers have penned the following letter to Members and fans:

We aspire to have everyone – players, coaches and staff – reflect on their time at the Crows in a positive manner and we are saddened that this has not been the case for everyone.

It has been confronting to hear Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins describe their experiences during the 2018 pre-season training camp on the Gold Coast, as well as the subsequent hurt they have carried.

We apologise to Eddie, Josh and any other player, coach or staff member, who had a negative experience during this time.

Equally we are sorry to hear Bryce Gibbs express his disappointment at the way in which the camp and events surrounding it were handled and its impact on the playing group, and we acknowledge there are others who may feel the same way.

The most important thing we can do now is listen and offer our support.

We know that moving on as a Club will be difficult. Everyone will do it in their own time and in their own way, and we sincerely hope that with the passage of time the healing process can take place.

There has been a significant amount of change at our Club over the past couple of years. Most notably, the key leadership positions of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Men’s Senior Coach and Men’s Head of Football have all changed hands.

In recent times there has also been a cultural shift and the focus is firmly on prioritising others. This is a genuine intent that stretches beyond the football department and permeates throughout our organisation. It’s a whole of club approach.

We are committed to emerging from this painful and challenging period and getting better. While we cannot rewrite history, we remain determined to learn from the past.

The Age reported on the Adelaide Crows’ camp in 2020, in a story which included a number of similar allegations to those in Eddie Betts’ autobiography, as well as other claims. Collective Mind sued for defamation. In December 2021, The Age and Nine made a business decision to settle the case and issue an apology without admitting that the story was inaccurate.

– With Jack Latimore.

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