Footy legend slams AFL over star’s bridge fall
NORTH Melbourne legend Wayne Schwass has criticised the AFL over a suggested failure to combat mental health issues rife throughout the game.
Schwass made a desperate plea for the AFL to lift its commitment to addressing the mental health of its players just hours after North Melbourne star Majak Daw was rescued by Victorian emergency services near the edge of the Yarra River after falling from the Bolte Bridge on Monday night.
Police officers were called after a man fell from the bridge, near Lorimer Street, at about 11pm.
He was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Victoria Police said.
The Herald Sun reports Daw suffered a broken hip and is now in a stable condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Schwass, a Kangaroos premiership-winner and mental health advocate, launched into the AFL as news of Daw's fall emerged on Tuesday morning.
The founder of mental health advocacy enterprise Puka Up took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction for the AFL's efforts to improve mental health awareness across the footy community.
"At what point will the AFL industry come together to begin to seriously address the issue of mental health," Schwass posted on his Twitter account.
"Surely, that point is TODAY/ NOW!! Fortunately the outcome of today's event wasn't more tragic. A very serious wake up call our industry needs to get serious."
The circumstances surrounding Daw's fall from the Bolte Bridge remain unknown, however, there is reportedly concern for his mental state leading up to the incident on Monday night.
The game has been rocked recently with a series of high-profile players admitting to seeking treatment surrounding issues of depression, anxiety and suicide.
The AFL and the AFL Players' Association earlier this year announced a commitment to next year increase its financial commitment to mental health programs and initiatives to $900,000 across the 18 clubs.
The funds will see the grant given to each club via the AFLPA increase to $50,000 per club in 2019, for programs designed to improve the emotional wellbeing of AFL footballers.
However, the AFL administration has continued to face criticism after a series of players were widely praised for going public with their mental health battles.
Essendon's David Myers recently revealed his mental health battle and the toll it took on his AFL career.
Collingwood star Adam Treloar revealed he came close to missing games in the first half of 2018 as a result of ongoing anxiety.
Carlton ruckman Matthew Lobbe also penned a column for The AFLPA website where he revealed the impact mental health issues has had on his family.
Most notably, Collingwood star recruit Dayne Beams was widely praised for coming forward and sharing his own mental health battle.
Beams earlier this year said he was forced top confront suicidal thoughts following the loss of his father, Phillip, to bowel cancer.
Swans superstar Lance Franklin was famously granted personal leave and did not play in the 2015 AFL Finals series after seeking help for his mental health.
Alex Fasolo, Tom Boyd and Travis Cloke also sought help for mental health battles in 2015.
The issue of mental health in professional sport is global.
In the NRL, Queensland State of Origin great Willie Tonga recently revealed he had to rescue Parramatta teammate Reni Maitua during a tragic incident where the star forward attempted to take his own life.
The issue of athletes struggling to overcome enormous public expectation and pressure to perform continues to impact athletes right across the Australian sport industry.
The Kangaroos released a statement late on Tuesday morning asking for Daw and his family to be given privacy during his recovery.
"The North Melbourne Football Club can confirm Majak Daw is recovering in hospital after an incident last night," the statement read.
"At this stage the full extent of his injuries are unknown, however, he is in a stable condition.
"The club is providing full support to Majak and his family and will give a further update when it is in a position to do so.
"We understand the level of interest but ask the privacy of the player, his family, teammates and staff at the club be respected at this sensitive time."
Since joining the Kangaroos, Daw has become a key figure in the AFL and the local community.
In his role as an AFL multicultural ambassador, he has spoken out against racism and is widely considered a role model for aspiring young footballers.
Having fled war-torn Sudan, Daw and his family moved to Australia in 2003.
He was selected by North Melbourne at the 2010 rookie draft and became the first Sudanese-born player to make an AFL debut when he played his first senior game against the Brisbane Lions in round four of the 2013 season.
The 195cm utility struggled to establish himself as a regular player at the elite level until this year when he enjoyed a breakout campaign.
Having played predominantly as a forward and a ruckman, coach Brad Scott switched him to defence where he flourished, making 18 senior appearances to reach his 50-game career milestone.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency, call triple-0