AFL not 'safe' for Indigenous stars, says Betts

1 month ago 11
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Retiring Carlton star Eddie Betts says the AFL is still not a "safe" environment for Indigenous players, while explaining Adam Goodes' plight inspired him to speak up on the issue of racism.

Betts' illustrious 350-game career will come to an end when he runs out with Carlton for one last time on Saturday night, but his impact on the game will continue for generations.

MORE: Betts' powerful response to Taylor Walker scandal

The 34-year-old will go down as one of the AFL's greatest ever Indigenous players, and he explained how he had been inspired by Goodes after persistent racism forced the Sydney Swans icon into premature retirement back in 2015.

"The AFL platform has really given me a place to express myself and I guess when I speak about my voice and how I want to use it, I got that belief from Adam Goodes," he told Fox Footy's AFL360.

Betts says the AFL is still not a 'safe' environment for Indigenous people who continue to be subjected to racism (Getty)

"What he went through in his journey and the ways things finished was really disappointing and he'd given me the courage and the strength to speak up and use my voice and I thank Adam for that."

Despite the lessons those involved in the game insist they have learned from Goodes' painful experience, Betts contends the AFL is still not a safe space for Indigenous people.

"I don't feel like it's safe at the moment. I honestly don't," he said.

"I feel like there's still a lot of racism, and this year there has been a lot of racism. It's been draining and it's been tiring. Every year we see myself and the other Aboriginal boys standing up, trying to call it out, trying to make a stance.

Betts said he had been inspired to speak up and call out racist acts by fellow Indigenous great Adam Goodes (Getty)

"We've got to be stronger. We've got to somehow catch these people and keep them accountable for what they say online or over the fence. It has been really tough and really draining, and that's why I told everyone last week that I need everyone's help.

"I'm not the one that's going to make change. It's not on Aboriginal people here in Australia that's going to make the change. It's you guys that are going to make the change. It's for people to start calling it out, having those conversations."

Soft-spoken during his first nine seasons with the Blues, Betts admitted that moving to Adelaide allowed him to find his voice as a leader.

"[Leaving Carlton for Adelaide] was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but I believe it was one of the best decisions I made too," he said. "It was just a fresh start."

"I started using my voice a bit more, I don't know why I didn't at Carlton. I didn't use my voice in my early years, but when I got to Adelaide, I started talking up and people started listening and I started getting confident in speaking and leading and really grew."

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