Daw spoke of fight to overcome demons before fall
AFL star Majak Daw, who is in a serious condition in hospital after plunging from the Bolte Bridge into the Yarra river on Monday night, recently spoke out about confronting his demons.
Daw, 27, told a documentary crew: "I have always believed that, you know, tough times won't last. But if I can just ride it through, I'll come out stronger, and I'll look back on those experiences and say, 'I've been able to go through that, I can go through anything.'"
The documentary, Voice For Change, due to air next month, is meant to inspire troubled souls.
In the interview, the Kangaroos star said he found it lonely being an AFL pioneer, but football helped him block out negativity. He said: "I just focus on what I can do.
"I really have an outlet - I train. I'm at training four times a week, and then play on the weekend.
"So I really use that as an inspiration. Me training well, and playing well on the weekend - they're the things that are in my control."
Emergency services rescued Daw from the Yarra about 11pm on Monday after he fell from the Bolte Bridge in Docklands. He is expected to have surgery in coming days for what are believed to be a broken hip and serious pelvic injuries.
On Monday night, Daw pulled his car up in an operating lane on the bridge. He is believed to have stayed in the car for a short period, then stepped out and plunged into the water.
The North Melbourne player was in a serious but stable condition in the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Tuesday, surrounded by friends and family.
Sports stars past and present rallied around him.
Basketball star Andrew Bogut took to social media to offer the Kangaroos tall his support, saying: "Majak Daw news is shocking. Hope he will be OK.''
And footy great Wayne Schwass called for better mental health support for AFL players. The Roos premiership ace said footy stars were under more pressure than ever, and needed better skills to deal with outside problems.
He said the footy field was just one area of life in which elite athletes experienced stress. Relationship problems, financial woes, alcohol, drugs and gambling could all trigger mental health problems, he said.
Schwass, who has become a mental health advocate after detailing his own battles with depression, said a collaborative approach from the AFL, Players Association, Coaches Association, clubs and players was needed.
"I'm very confident that for every Alex Fasolo, Tom Boyd, Travis Cloke who comes out and does acknowledge that they are dealing with mental health conditions, there are a lot more that haven't found the courage," he said.
Daw's close friend, Ahmed Hassan, director of multicultural organisation Youth Activating Youth, said people were rallying around.
Kangaroos chairman Ben Buckley said Daw's mental and physical wellbeing was paramount, and the club was "providing full and ongoing support for Majak and his family, and also the players and the wider club".
The AFL said it had worked with North Melbourne throughout the day "to offer all further support for Majak, his family, his teammates and all staff at the club."
Daw is the third of nine children in a family that fled civil war in Sudan.
He signed to North Melbourne in 2010, and made history as the first Sudanese player in the AFL.
He has said success came with a struggle to keep it real. "It doesn't matter what heights you reach in life, or how well you're going at work … you want to continue to stay authentic," he said.
Daw said he owed it to his parents to thrive.
"From where I've come, from being a migrant … my parents had to give up … everything, just for me," he said. "I want to do the right thing by them, and if I can inspire my younger brothers and sisters and other kids from the community, I'd be pretty happy.
"I really want to make a change in this country and I want to be that bridge between my culture and the Australian culture."
After 50 games in eight years, Daw had a breakout season this year after being move to defence, where he averaged 5.3 marks a game and garnered two nominations for mark of the year.
People seeking help can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or Kids' Helpline on 1800 55 1800