Majak day for Africa gets closer
Thursday, November 05 2009 @ 07:19 am ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Sudanese immigrant Majak Daw continues to create interest as the AFL Draft approaches (November 26). Big in athleticism but raw in football skills with only 4 years in the game, there appears to be growing discussion in media and AFL club circles suggesting that rather than be a rough chance to be rookie listed, he may in fact be picked up in the main draft, possibly even quite early.
AFL clubs are increasingly confident that with full time coaches and full time players, inexperienced athletes can be fast tracked into good players. Although he wasn't invited to the main draft camp, Majak Daw attended the Victorian state screening and posted impressive statistics; a 70-centimetre standing vertical jump would have put him third at the main camp in Canberra, a beep test of 13.6 (compared with the best tall forward at 13.3) and 3.03 seconds for 20 metres (quicker than the tall forward mean).
On top of that is the prospect of what is being billed as the first African to play in the AFL and the associated attention that may bring. Technically, there have been others listed by AFL clubs who have had African heritage, such as Caucasian South African-Australian Luke van Rheenen and (more successfully) Essendon's Damian Cupido. But in the popular imagination, a tall and very dark skinned African-born player has not been seen before at the game's top level.
Daw is very much aware of the growing hype and the potential to inspire other African immigrants to play Australia's indigenous game. But meanwhile he continues with his studies and plays the waiting game. "I reckon I've got a bit of a chance, but I'll wait and see. If it happens, I'm happy to be the first Sudanese to play AFL".
An in-depth discussion in The Age is Majak Daw: one giant leap.