Listen: GWS Giants player Haneen Zreika chats to Sam about the growth of AFLW
There’s no greater anti-climax to a sporting season than not reaching a final, where a winner is declared and celebrated. But, last year, this was the reality for AFL Women’s, better known as AFLW, when COVID-19 forced a shutdown of the season, with no premiership awarded.
Now, AFLW is back for 2021 (its fifth season) and 21 year-old Haneen Zreika, player for the Greater Western Sydney Giants, remains optimistic that this season’s trophy will be awarded.
Last week’s round two saw some scheduling changes – Haneen and the Giants were due to play the West Coast Eagles in Adelaide but due to the COVID case emerging in Perth that was postponed and a new game was scheduled in Sydney against Adelaide.
“Sunday, we had to play in WA and after our game, we found out about the lockdown… so we got to the airport [to fly to Adelaide], then got a message that AFL wanted to send us home… so we had to go straight to the hotel, not go anywhere, then in the morning straight to the airport and we went back to Sydney. We were in five days isolation,” she said.
Haneen actually began playing NRL before receiving a tap on the shoulder to give AFL – a sport she knew nothing about – a go.
“One day when I was 15, one of my teachers called me out and said I should play AFL with the boys.”
It was just a simple explanation of the sport, “Just catch, kick, and tackle, and you’ll be fine” but enough to convince Haneen to jump on board.
Haneen doesn’t take for granted her position on the field, especially knowing young girls are watching on. As AFLW grows (for the first time this season, the games are now ticketed), there’s a greater hope for young girls to find a place on the field in the future.
For the first time this season, the games are now ticketed.
“Whatever you want, whatever dream you have, whatever you want to do in life, if you put your mind to it you can accomplish it. It comes down to mindset and the people you surround yourself with. If you have talent, that’s great, but hard work needs to be there to get to where you want to be,” Haneen said.
You can listen to the full interview with Greater Western Sydney Giants player Haneen Zreika in the player above.