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Inspired Zreika a Rising Star

Zreika a Rising Star Western Sydney local Haneen Zreika has been named the round seven NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee for a game she didn't even think she'd be playing in. GIANTS Media catch up with her to her how she feels about the nomination and what round seven meant to her and the team.
Amna (Karra Hassan – Founder of the Auburn GIANTS) messaged me and said that they need me to play and someone like me to inspire people that there’s a bit of hope and joy and that after a dark day there is a bit of light.
Haneen Zreika

Western Sydney local Haneen Zreika has been named the round seven NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee for a game she didn’t even think she’d be playing in. 

Zreika, the first Muslim player to play in the NAB AFLW competition, was so rocked by the tragic events in Christchurch last Friday that playing football that night was the last thing on her mind.

Thankfully, not only for the GIANTS but for the wider sporting community, the support of those closest to Zreika led her to the decision to pull on the boots as a mark of respect to those that had lost their lives earlier that day on the other side of the Tasman. 

“Before the game, I found out that terrible news and then Alan spoke to me and checked up on me and I wasn’t sure if I would even play,” said Zreika.

“But then Amna (Karra Hassan – Founder of the Auburn GIANTS) messaged me and said that they need me to play and someone like me to inspire people that there’s a bit of hope and joy and that after a dark day there is a bit of light. 

“That’s what changed my mindset and I went to the game.” 

It’s been a remarkable debut season for the 19-year old, with a nomination for the NAB AFLW Rising Star award capping it off.

Having been delisted at the end of the 2018 season having not played a game, Zreika was re-drafted and forced her way into the round one team off the back of a tenacious attitude to pre-season training.

Her debut last month made national headlines with her emotions spilling over when told the news by coach Alan McConnell.

The former rugby league player found herself in and out of the team throughout the season, but with the eyes of the sporting community on her, she stepped up to gather 17 possessions, lay seven tackles and kick her first goal.

A few days after her stand out performance and the GIANTS’ 31-point victory, the tough midfielder is still blown away by the support she’s got from the club and her team mates who all wore black arm bands and observed a minutes silence pre-game. 

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“It just shows what a club we are and I’ve got so much respect for the girls and Alan after what they did. It’s just pretty special and it meant a lot to me.” 

Friday night saw the GIANTS finish a disappointing season on a bright note, defeating finalists Geelong convincingly to wrap up the season and show plenty of signs for optimism for the 2020 season.

Zreika joins Alyce Parker (round one) as the two GIANTS to receive nominations for the award this season with the winner to be announced next week.