Phuket Sport: Sudanese 'Magic' Daw making impact in Aussie Rules
AUSSIE RULES: Majak Daw is making headlines as the first Sudanese-born player in the Australian Football League following a starring role for his club North Melbourne last weekend.
Wednesday 15 May 2013, 12:10PM
Daw, 22, who fled to Australia with his family from civil war-torn Sudan in 2003, is being seen as one of the feel-good stories in Australian sport.
In only his fourth senior game of AFL the 1.95 metre (6ft 4in) tall Daw kicked six goals in the North Melbourne Kangaroos’ 54-point win over the Western Bulldogs in Melbourne on Saturday to thrill fans with his athleticism.
His club is attempting to keep a lid on expectations surrounding him but teammates believe he could develop into something special.
“Majak is still a work in progress, and it’ll probably be a while before he reaches some consistency, but it was really exciting seeing what he could produce,” senior teammate Drew Petrie said on Monday.
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott said Daw was still learning the game.
“It’s great for the game. It’s a great story. We try to keep things relatively simple for him. He’s picking things up really quickly now,” Scott told the Herald-Sun.
“We’re really confident that while he’s not a complete footballer yet, we’re trying to play to his strengths and introduce things one at a time.
“I’ve got no problem with the inevitable hype and excitement. We’ve just got to make sure we keep him level headed, which I think we will.”
Daw wants to become a role model for the growing Sudanese community in Australia, numbering more than 22,000 in the 2011 census.
“For someone of my background, I’d love to think that I could one day be a role model to the Sudanese community,” Daw said.
“Some of the kids are probably in the same situation as I was a few years ago, just coming to a new country and not really knowing what to expect.
“Hopefully, seeing me play [in the AFL], it might mean something to them and make them want to play the game as well.”
But Daw has also endured the dark side of football with two men ejected from Saturday’s match for alleged racist abuse towards him.
Ground security and police threw the men out after complaints from other fans sitting nearby. Reports said that Daw was out of earshot.
Daw’s adaptation to Aussie Rules football began in earnest when his family shifted to a house opposite a football ground in the Melbourne outer suburb of Wyndham Vale.
The job of turning him from a raw rookie into a professional footballer fell to North Melbourne development coach John Lamont.
“The term role model gets bandied around a lot,” Lamont said. “Majak is a real role model for Sudanese youth.
“If they want to hook in, it can be done. Majak is not perfect but he has done a hell of a job. And he is only at the launching pad, hopefully, of what will be a 10-year career.”