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AFL helps quadriplegic teen Will Murray find a way

Nathan Schmook  February 24, 2016 2:27 PM

Will Murray at the Royal Children’s Hospital with father Nick and friends Luke Cleary and Josh Duscher

Will Murray at the Royal Children’s Hospital with father Nick and friends Luke Cleary and Josh Duscher

EVERY time junior footballer Will Murray got the ball, you knew something was going to happen, his under-13 teammates say. The teenage prodigy was "a freak of nature".

No longer able to stand out on the field since a devastating neck injury left him a quadriplegic, he is impressing all who visit him with his courage and mental resilience in Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital.

Will can't spend much more than five minutes in his wheelchair during the early stages of his rehabilitation, but he pushed on bravely to speak with media on Wednesday morning.

He smiled and was able to muster a thumbs-up for Richmond defender Dylan Grimes, despite the difficulty he has moving his fingers.

The 14-year-old's teammates, family, junior club and the AFL are holding a tribute match during the NAB Challenge to raise awareness of his condition and fundraise for his future. 

It is expected his support costs will reach $300,000 annually.

Will's father Nick says support from the football community has been invaluable since his son suffered the injury jumping off his local jetty at Half Moon Bay in Black Rock on January 17.

Will says he was blown away when told the AFL would hold a tribute match for him, as a curtain raiser before Richmond's NAB Challenge clash against Port Adelaide on March 10 at Etihad Stadium.  

"I was speechless, to get a chance to be part of the AFL, it was good," he said. 

"It was a pretty quick answer."

Will's close friends and teammates at East Sandringham, Luke Cleary and Josh Duscher, will both wear his No.19 for the Zebras in their clash against East Brighton Vampires.

It will be a rematch of last year’s South Metro Junior Football League under-13 division 1 Grand Final – Murray's last match with his East Sandringham teammates.

Both Luke and Josh, who represented Victoria at under-12 level alongside Will, said it was an honour to wear their friend's number. 

Will's rehabilitation is going to be a long and difficult road, and he will be in the Royal Children's rehab ward for quite a few months, the hospital's head of rehabilitation Dr Adam Scheinberg said.

While Will was hopeful he could attend the tribute match, it will be hard work to get him there.

Despite the hurdles he has faced, his father Nick said he remained in good spirits and was living in the moment.  

"Will's always been the sort of kid who doesn't look too far into the future," Nick said. 

"I think at the moment that's the sort of approach he's taking.

"When his friends here and his mates are in the room and he's having fun, then he's in good spirits and feeling good about himself. 

"At the moment he does take it one day at a time and that's probably a good way to approach something like this."

Donations can be made at www.wheretheresawill.com.au.