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Sports broadcaster Basil Zempilas has opened up on one of the biggest interviews of his career, as the nation prepares for another Ben Cousins documentary to air.
Zempilas’ interview with the former West Coast Eagles captain will air on Channel 7 on Sunday night, with Cousins sitting down to break his silence for the first time in 10 years.
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In a wide-ranging interviews, Cousins is set to address a number of topics, including whether he is still using drugs. But Zempilas believes the premiership player has a number of battles on his hands, on top of his addiction with drugs.
“I think probably the biggest takeaway from this, Ben’s battle continues. His life is a battle, it’s a battle every day,” Zempilas told SEN.
“What he wants now is some normality, but it is a battle for him to find that normality as he is still fighting that battle with addiction. The biggest difference I think now with Ben Cousins 10 years later, he knows what he needs to do, he knows what he needs to leave behind and he puts his hand up and takes the blame for where he is now, I don’t think he always did that.
“I think there were other people he had to blame or fingers to point in other directions, there’s none of that anymore. He knows that he is where he is because of what he did to himself. Trying to climb out of that… that remains a battle.”
Cousins is drifting from “one mates place to another”, according to Zempilas, with the 41-year-old still attempting to turn his life around.
“This bloke had the world at his feet. Now on any given night there is no certainty about where Ben Cousins might find himself. He doesn’t sleep on the streets, but drifts around from one mate’s place to another over any given period,” he explained.
“What he needs more than anything is a permanent roof over his head. He’s trying to find that, trying to get that in his life.
“He had a win the other day, got his drivers license back and that gives him the opportunity to move his life forward. His life is a battle. This is the biggest fight of his life, more-so than 10 years ago.
“He was still a celebrated figure back then, that documentary was about the party life and seemed to be some glamour to the Ben Cousins story back then. Now we are talking about a bloke who wants to see his kids as regularly as possible to do the things he needs to be able to do… he needs to find somewhere to live, he needs to find a job, he needs to find some normality.
“It’s hard to believe we are talking about a Brownlow Medallist who was the captain of the West Coast Eagles.”
Zempilas explained members of the public might shy away at the Cousins discussion, believing it was a story that didn’t need to be told. But the sports presenter believed it could help those with their own battles.
“I remind people that Ben wanted to tell the story. It’s not sugar coated, it hits you between the eyes,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who suffer with drug addiction, but Jane and John Smith might be drug addicts but we don’t tell their story as we don’t know who they are. We know who Ben Cousins is.
“If the stories of addiction and the perils behind the lows of it can be illustrated by Ben, then so be it. If nothing else, there’s some valuable takeaway for Aussie families who might be going through something like this.”