North Melbourne’s Majak Daw hopes his uplifting AFL comeback after almost two years out can inspire others struggling with their mental health.
There were fears Daw would never play again after suffering serious hip and pelvic injuries in a fall from the Bolte Bridge in December 2018.
But the Kangaroos defender will return for his first AFL game in more than 700 days after being named for Saturday’s match against Adelaide.
A pioneer as the first Sudanese-born player to debut in the AFL, Daw said there was “no greater feeling” than when his inclusion was confirmed by North skipper Jack Ziebell on Wednesday.
“It’s been a testing few years, a test of my character, my resilience and how I can bounce back from setbacks,” Daw said.
“A few weeks ago where I spoke to the (Roos) boys and shared parts of my journey; coming to Australia, playing footy, my battle with mental health.
“I want to be able to help people in a way that gives them hope and can do things they once thought was impossible or getting back to living the life that they always imagined.
“There’s been so many people who have been in touch with me and they’ve shared their battles with mental health.
“I think for me that’s a pretty big responsibility and I wanted to do it right… and hopefully that gives people hope.”
The 29-year-old was on track to play in Round 1 against St Kilda, but was ruled out with a minor cold as a precaution when COVID-19 started in March.
His comeback dreams for this year might have been over when he tore a pectoral muscle in May in a gym accident.
But he was lucky to avoid surgery, impressing in recovery and at training and during scratch matches in Queensland.
“There were moments when I was just like ‘geez, when’s my moment going to come, when I’m going to play’,” Daw said.
“The work that have done with professionals, the psych(ologist) and the psychiatrist – ‘you know what, don’t try and take on too much’.”
Selected by North in the 2010 rookie draft, Daw debuted in 2013 and has kicked 40 goals in his 50 games.
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