Considered to be one of the more naturally-talented footballers in the 2022 AFL draft, Harry Sheezel is a name that will be well-known to most footy fans by the end of the season. The 18-year-old from Melbourne has already shown he has what it takes to compete at the top level, having been named in the 2022 NAB AFL Academy – Australia U18 Team that took on Collingwood’s VFL team last month.
Sheezel is a powerful and athletic midfielder who is capable of playing both inside and outside. He has good speed and agility and is known for his hard work and determination. Sheezel is also a very good kick, which will no doubt be a valuable asset at the next level.
Sheezel is expected to be one of the first players—a surefire 10 draft pick—taken in the 2022 AFL draft, and he will no doubt be a big part of whatever team he ends up playing for. It will be exciting to see what he can do at the highest level, and footy fans should keep an eye on this young star in the making.
He is a full-time member of the Sandringham Dragons, and has made the most of his opportunity this season. Sheezel has set his claim as a rotating midfielder and has significant upside as a player who can win matches with his own boot after scoring 14 goals in six games, including bags of four and six goals.
Sheezel’s goal-kicking ability is well-known at this point, as seen by the aforementioned NAB League statistics. The deft medium type was also a standout in his lone Vic Metro appearance against the Young Guns, where he was thrust into the AFL Academy’s midfield late in the game on a day when his team’s forwards struggled. If his 28 disposals and six goals against Tasmania were a breakthrough game, his 37 touches against Northern in Round 9 served as the ideal audition for a permanent midfielder spot.
An Inspiration to the Jewish Community
Sheezel was only 16 when he experienced playing at the senior level, suiting up for his club Ajax in Victoria’s amateurs’ tournament last year. He earned the right, having emerged from the juniors program as the clear-cut best and brightest. During his debut, he kicked four goals from full-forward against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street Oval, including one goal that he described as “pretty good”.
“I had a bit of a day out,” Sheezel said in an article on AFL.com.au. “Playing juniors with Ajax was massive my whole life and it was so much fun to play with people from the community in the senior side as well.”
It was also during that time when Sheezel began feeling an immense outpouring of support for his football journey from the Jewish community. It also helped a great deal that Ajax is based in Melbourne’s inner south-eastern suburbs and is the country’s only Jewish football club.
With Jewish representation in the AFL historically low, Sheezel figures to be a role model for aspiring Jewish footballers not just in Melbourne, but also around the country. He is an AFL player of the future that the community can rally behind and one that could potentially inspire the next generation of Jewish footballers. To date, only Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne), Ezra Poyas (Richmond and Melbourne), and Julian Kirzner (Essendon, Carlton, and North Melbourne) have made it to the big stage of the AFL.
“There haven’t been as many Jewish footballers lately to make it into the AFL, so it’s kind of special to hopefully be the first one [drafted] in a while. Everyone has been so supportive and living it with me, in a sense,” Sheezel said.
“I hope to be pretty inspiring for younger kids as well because I feel like the Jewish community is really into the sport as well, they love their footy, so hopefully I can inspire a few more kids to hopefully go down the same path.
“Along the way you see how much it means to people in the community. I never really thought of it until I’ve started to be in the media a little bit more and everyone is all over it now. It’s pretty cool. And at school it’s kind of new for them, they don’t really know how to act and neither do I so I just embrace it.”
Shezeel currently attends Mount Scopus—one of Australia’s foremost Jewish schools. It was there where he really got to learn more about his culture and faith, something that he is extremely proud of. Being at Mount Scopus has also given Sheezel the opportunity to focus on playing for the Dragons in the NAB League.
Sheezel has already shown that he is more than capable of shouldering the responsibility that comes with being a potential AFL footballer and an inspiration to the Jewish community. With his undeniable talent and character, there is no doubt that Harry Sheezel has what it takes to be a successful AFL player. All that’s left now is for him to take that next step and fulfill his dream.
“There’s still a long way to go and a lot of important games to be played. I don’t want to look too far ahead and just focus on each game and each month at a time, because the last two years have shown us that you just have to be present and do the best you can when you play because the next week and the future aren’t guaranteed,” Sheezel said.
“But I think about the draft every second. My life is oriented around it and footy. Everything I do I try to better myself to put myself in the best position I can.”
Sheezel is also one of the ambassadors of Prepare Like A Pro, an organization that helps young footballers with difficulties improve their athleticism, by teaching them sustainable lifestyle tips with a personalized program.