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Crows' Collective Mind experiment "could have been done better"

Football

Crows chairman Rob Chapman has conceded a controversial pre-season camp’s treatment of Adelaide’s indigenous players – including star forward Eddie Betts – “could have been done better”, as the issue continues to dog the struggling club.

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After three straight losses, last year’s grand finalists have slumped to a 6-6 record and faced another barrage of media scrutiny this week, amid claims injured forward Mitch McGovern is seeking a trade.

Sam McClure, the Melbourne-based reporter who aired the claim – described as “ridiculous” by McGovern’s manager – also made headlines on his SEN Breakfast segment claiming Betts, whose output has been down on his All-Australian form of recent seasons, “hasn’t been happy there for some time because of what happened at the training camp”.

“What happened on that camp… it’s unthinkable that they would do that to anyone,” McClure said this week.

“Eddie is not the only one that had some really unfair, emotional pressure, that has nothing to do with football, put on him. It affected him for weeks… that football club should be ashamed with what they put him through.”

Betts responded to the comments on FIVEaa yesterday, saying it was “not true”.

“I love the footy club… I can’t see myself going anywhere else. I’ll finish my career at the Crows,” he said.

The 31-year-old said some people “get a lot out of Collective Mind” – the organisation that ran the ‘mindfulness’ component of the pre-season camp, but added that “some people don’t”.

“I got a fair bit out of it,” he said.

“I’m happy at the footy club.”

Betts suggested his form struggles this year had been down to his body “not holding up”.

But Chapman – at a press conference to detail renovations to Adelaide Airport, which he also chairs – conceded the contentious pre-season retreat’s treatment of indigenous players “would be one aspect that I would acknowledge could have been done better”.

“The people that were running the camp probably could have explored better ways of using some terminology that might have had an impact on our indigenous players,” he said.

“It could have been done better.”

Chapman said he had “listened to our players our coaching group” and “many of them have told me wonderful things we’ve taken from the camp that they’re applying in their everyday life and applying to improve their football”.

He said of the indigenous contingent: “I’m not sure they were upset on the camp, but we acknowledge some of the terminology used by the facilitators, on reflection – I’m not sure of the details – they would say could have been handled better.”

“I would say today [those players] are in good spirits – we’ve put that component of the camp behind us,” he said.

“It was one very small component… we’ve addressed that, and we addressed that some months ago.”

The ‘mindfulness’ retreat has continued to haunt the Crows as their season fails to live up to the promise of last year. But Chapman defended it, saying: “The strategy was in no way flawed.”

“I admit, the reaction to it I can’t quite get my head around,” he added.

“But the strategy in the first place was to go and explore the power of the mind… this isn’t about psychological best practice, this was exploring visualisation, meditation and other techniques to get the maximum out of what is one’s mind.”

He said football clubs had already adopted strategies to maximise physical fitness, and “I think we’re negligent in not exploring the [mental] growth that may or not be available through it”.

“I can’t quite get my head around why it keeps bobbing up,” he said of the issue.

“We were aware of the camp as a board, as a collective, and we’ve shown a high degree of governance around this… I’m happy with how they were executed.”

The chairman said the club was “sitting down analysing why we are where we are” this season.

“We’re looking at our program we’re tweaking certain aspects of it,” he said.

But he dismissed any suggestion coach Don Pyke should come under specific scrutiny.

“It would be ridiculous to entertain those questions,” he said.

“There’s a collective responsibility and that’s the beauty of football clubs – we’re collectively responsible for the results this club produces.”

A loss to Hawthorn this weekend would leave the Crows in negative win-loss territory heading into the mid-year bye, which “would be a grim position to be in”.

“But I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals,” he said.

“We’ll continue to analyse, improve… at no stage will we write off the season.

“No season’s ever a write-off… you get great learnings from it.”

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