Kicking Goals

When an act of terrorism injures and claims the lives of innocent people, the air fills with a sense of sadness, empathy and frustration. If one of the victims is a national hero, admired and idolised by many, emotions run even higher. When one of Australia’s most loved AFL players, Jason McCartney, was reported as a victim in the 2002 Bali bombings, fans across the country held their breath and prayed for his survival.

In his early days, McCartney had been an example of young talent at its finest, and his commitment to his chosen sport was second to none. His positive attitude and drive to succeed saw him move from Colling-wood to Adelaide and finally to North Melbourne, making a name for himself in AFL as an inspirational sport-ing persona, encouraging girls and boys everywhere to pursue their dreams of playing sport professionally.

When the Bali bombings happened, McCartney battled with death on the operating table, suffering severe burns to over half of his body and spending five days in a coma. The news brought waves of despair and dis-tress not just to his family, friends, teammates and fans, but also to the wider AFL and entire Australian sporting communities.

Beyond surviving, no one expected McCartney would ever return to play. But summoning all the strength, passion and perseverance inside him, he began a journey of rehabilitation, training hard and working in-tensely to build himself up to not just be a survivor, but also to play the sport he loved once again.

In an incredible display of determination, McCartney overcame adversity and returned to the AFL field to rep-resent his football club again and play for his loyal fans. In his almighty comeback game, he modestly achieved 3 kicks, 1 mark, 1 goal and 1 behind, and with his teammates walked away a winner – but not before announcing his official retirement.

Having fought against all odds to prove that he could and would play football again, despite the physical hardships and mental trauma that had been so unjustly thrust upon him, McCartney’s journey fast became symbolic of the sheer power of human spirit. To this day, Jason McCartney’s is considered as one of the biggest and most inspirational AFL news stories of all time.

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