AFLW Draft Combine Player Profile: Haneen Zreika
Ahead of the first ever NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine taking place this week at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, we are chatting with AFL NSW/ACT’s three representatives.
Here we have Haneen Zreika– a midfielder from Sydney’s West who converted to AFL after years of playing Rugby League.
Which club do you play for?
Auburn Giants as a midfielder.
Do you like this position?
Yes, I love playing on the ball but if I was to choose another position I’d go half-back or half-forward.
What is your family’s cultural background?
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have two sisters and two brothers – I’m the youngest. Nesrin (28), Hussein (26) Sabrin (25) and Ahmed (20). My brothers both played rugby league growing up and I used to play footy with them.
Tell us about where you grew up.
I grew up in Greenacre and I have the best childhood memories. My street was a no through road with a park near it, so I’d play footy (league) every day and I’d ride my bike. It felt like a new adventure everyday with the neighbour’s kids.
Did you grow up with AFL as a big part of your life?
No, I didn’t know what it was.
When did it become a part of your life and how?
When I was 15, the head of P.E at school introduced AFL into the school for the boys and told me to go have a run with them.
Which AFL/AFLW team do you support?
Who is your favourite AFL /AFLW player?
Ellie Blackburn. She is skillful, strong and she has good composure under pressure.
What did it mean to you to see the AFLW come to life this year?
It made it feel real. My first AFL game, I was 14 years old and my coach and team all believed I could play AFLW when it started in 2020. Then the competition started in 2017 and it meant I could get there sooner. It’s like dreams can come true.
What was your favourite moment of the first AFLW season?
The amount of people that attended the first game.
What are your personal goals for your AFLW career?
To be the best footballer I can be.
What are you expecting from the AFL Women’s Draft Combine?
To kill it.
What challenges are you expecting, if any?
To see if my skills are up to standard.
Which event at the AFL Women’s Draft Combine will be your best event?
The 2km time trial or beep/yo-yo test.
How are you preparing for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine?
Once I knew I was selected for Combine testing, I started working on my weaknesses. For the last few weeks I’ve committed to three skills sessions – focused on kicking – per week, two to three sprint sessions per week, and three strength sessions per week. They’re with separate coaches.
Tell us something fun about yourself which has nothing to do with football.
I’m an outgoing person, chilled and laid back. I love to have a laugh
Where is the most interesting place you have ever been?
Sunshine Coast. I was there for World Cup Oztag tournament. While I was there, I met with Taylor Harris. It was the year before AFLW in December 2015, but there was the AFLW Exhibition games where Taylor had her famous kick. I met someone who was also young, shining in the women’s league, and it inspired me.
What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?
I’m known for my side step on the footy field, it’s pretty impressive.
If your life was turned into a book, what would the title be?
I’m not sure but until then, Amna [Zreika’s Auburn GIANTS Club President] thinks it should be ‘Zeuraka’ because the announcers say my surname funny. It sounds like ‘Ze-reeka’ but it should sound like ‘Zr-ay-ka’ and ‘Ze-reeka’ rhymes with ‘eureka’, and the meaning of that word matches my life.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Playing NRL in a boys team for six years from 7-12 years old. I was the only girl in the team and better than the boys.
What is your favourite food and why?
Ma3croon ib laban – it’s the Lebanese version of pasta and yoghurt blended with garlic and salt.
What are you most terrified of?
Not becoming everything I want to be.
Who is your ultimate role model and why?
My mother. She is so easy going, supportive of my passion for sports and playing to the highest level, and loves watching me play sport. She’s so hard working and gives everything to her children.