AFL star Majak Daw thanked his teammates and coaches for their support in a classy display of humility after being dropped from the North Melbourne Kangaroos.
The 29-year-old was one of 11 players let go from the club’s roster this week in an overhaul following a poor 2020 season which sees them in contention for the wooden spoon.
Daw made a dramatic fairytale return to the AFL in August after two years on the sideline after falling from Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge in 2018.
He released a statement on Saturday giving thanks to North Melbourne, with hopes to continue his career in the AFL at another club.
Majak Daw (pictured with partner Emily McKay) is one of 11 players to be released from the North Melbourne Kangaroos after a poor season in 2020
‘I can’t thank this club enough for the opportunity it gave me to play and the support it’s given me over 11 years,’ Daw posted on Instagram.
‘While it’s farewell to North, I hope it’s not farewell to AFL. Thank you to my family, friends and our fans for supporting me over the journey.’
Emotional footage of Daw’s statement to his North Melbourne teammates and coaching staff was revealed on Saturday.
‘I played one final, and I think I played 54 games in 11 years, so it’s quite a humble career, but I’d just like to thank this footy club for giving me an opportunity to be the first African to play in the AFL. It’s something I will always hold close to my heart.’ Daw said.
‘I’ve made some really good mates at this place. I’ll miss the locker room banter … it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to this year, there’s been challenges I’ve gone through.
‘The last few years obviously haven’t been easy for me, and I can’t thank this footy club enough for what they’ve done for me.’
Daw raises a fist while leading the Kangaroos from the field at Metricon Stadium after his fairytale return to the AFL on the Gold Coast on August 1
Daw was the first Sudanese player to debut in the AFL in 2013 and played 54 games before suffering horrific injuries after falling from the Bolte Bridge.
He suffered hip and pelvic injuries in the fall and had two 15cm metal rods inserted in his hips, leaving him forced to learn to walk again in recovery.
‘It’s tested my character, my resilience, how I can bounce back from setbacks,’ Daw said in July.
Daw said he felt a responsibility to show others who are struggling with mental health that there is a way through their despair.
‘I wanted to be able to help give them hope, that they can do things that never thought possible, or going back to living the life they have always enjoyed,’ Daw said.
‘Life is pretty hard, there are a lot of things that get in the way. There are a lot of people struggling, but you have to have the belief its going to turn.
Daw (pictured with girlfriend Emily McKay and their son Hendrix Kuat William Daw) suffered horrific injuries after he fell off Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge in 2018
‘The incentive is that I can help people, people I don’t know. There have been so many people show have shared their battle with mental health, and for me that is a pretty big responsibility, and I want to do it right.’
Despite only playing four games this year, Kangaroos coach Rhys Shaw said Daw’s return to top level footy was one of the most extraordinary achievements he had witnessed in his career.
‘How Majak was able to physically recover and mentally get himself back to playing elite level football will be the stuff of legend,’ he said.
He also praised his achievements in raising awareness for mental health and being a role model for the African community in Melbourne.
Other players let go from the team include Jasper Pittard and Jamie Macmillan who were senior members of the Kangaroos leadership group.
Sam Durdin, Marley Williams, Joel Crocker, Lachie Hosie Tom Murphy, Ben Jacobs, Paul Ahern, and Mason Wood were also shown the door.
Ben Brown, whose $2million three-year contract deal stalled, and in demand mid-fielder Jared Polec are also likely to leave the club on their own steam.
Daw was humble in his release from the Kangaroos and hopes to continue his AFL career at another club