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"Too scared to play": Eddie Betts reveals crushing impact of racist attack

David Prestipino -

"The only place I would ever want my kids to feel safe is at home, and they can't even feel safe at home... this one is a lot harder."

An emotional and candid Eddie Betts has revealed the impact constant racial abuse he copped across his 350-game career at Carlton and Adelaide was nothing compared to his children being subject to it while playing backyard basketball at his family home on Thursday night.

The Indigenous legend and AFL fan favourite has long been racially targeted by opposition fans, including one who threw a banana over the fence at him in 2016.

On Saturday night's Fox Footy coverage Betts, a father of five, said the shocking incident at his Melbourne home hit harder than all the racial attacks he endured through his storied career.

CCTV footage posted to Instagram showed a white car driving slowly past his Glen Iris home, with a male voice repeatedly yelling the N-word at some of Betts' children and their friends playing basketball.

The abuse has been publicly condemned and Victoria Police confirmed they received a report of racial abuse towards children, alleging the driver drove past the Betts property just after 8.30pm EST on Thursday, yelling from the windows before driving away.

Betts, a prominent anti-racism advocate, has only recently revealed the extent and torment from constant racial attacks, and on Saturday night urged all Australians to have "those uncomfortable conversations" because it was the "only way" to move forward.

"It was a tough start to the weekend, a crappy start with what happened at my house," Betts said on Fox Footy's pre-game broadcast of the Port Adelaide-Melbourne match.

"To see that someone actually got out of their car at 8.40 at night, to drive to my house and yell abuse at my kids over the fence — I think this one hits a lot harder than all the racial abuse that I've had over my years.

"That's because it's directed at my kids with such hatred."

Betts said the children, who heard the abuse, were "fine now, they were shaken up a bit".

"They're too scared to go out and play basketball at night," he said.

"It was really, really tough and hard to see."

Betts said he was glad the incident raised awareness and he would continue to advocate against racism, despite admitting feeling "exhausted" from the ongoing mental anguish and addressing the issue.

"If I didn't raise this, you wouldn't have known what happened. This continues to happen to Aboriginal people all over the country," he said last night.

Betts, who kicked 640 goals across 350 games, said he would continue to "stand here in front of everybody and put my face to it and stand out and call it out, educate and educate, because we need to stamp out racism here in Australia all together, because it does hurt".

"I want the people who have done this and drove past my house to yell abuse at my kids to know that it is hurtful," he said.

"This will stick with them for the rest of their lives and the rest of my life.

"The only place I would ever want my kids to feel safe is at home, and they can't even feel safe at home.

Betts said it had been a tough week but thanked the AFL and wider community for their support and love.

"We've got your messages and it means so much to hear your support. It helps us so much," he said.

"As a family, we'll continue to stick together ... to everyone at home, if you're watching this — please have those uncomfortable conversations with your kids, your family, your friends — because that's the only way we're going to move forward in this nation."

Co-host and former Hawthorn star Ben Dixon said: "Well said Eddie. Great to have you here" while fellow panellist and Western Bulldogs legend Brad Johnson added: "Love you mate."

On Thursday night Betts posted the video with an invitation to educate the perpetrator over their behaviour.

"Aboriginal kids deserve to be able to play safely, free from racism and abuse over the fence," he wrote.

"We are not even safe in our own homes. If you know who this is, please let them know that I'm open to having a chat about how much this hurts our kids."

Not all the four children in the footage are Betts', who has five young kids with partner Anna Scullie.

"This isn't the first or last time racism prevents Black kids from playing something they love," Ms Scullie later wrote on social media.

"If you feel helpless, the best thing you can do is talk to your kids and others about racism."

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon and social policy executive Tanya Hosch on Friday acknowledged the leadership of Betts for bringing national exposure to the incident.

"Once again, we find ourselves in a position where we must express our strongest condemnation against another example of overt racism, this time targeting children playing sport in their own front yard," their AFL statement read.

"Racism is wrong. Racism is harmful. Racism requires a response. We invite everyone to follow Eddie's example in calling out racism when you hear, read or see it. We invite everyone to report racism wherever possible.

"The AFL wishes to express our love and best wishes for healing, for the children and families who were subject to the racist abuse shared in the video last night.

"We wish to stand with Eddie and his family and thank him for bringing this disturbing behaviour to our attention. We must not look away, rather we must stand together to play our part to reduce racism."


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