It’s not uncommon for young sportspeople from the Maitland community to make it big on the national and international stage.
However, even getting started in AFL, let alone making the big time, can be a huge step.
But the top is exactly where All Saints Maitland, St Mary’ s Campus student Isaac Heeney is aiming.
The 16-year-old is a member of the Sydney Swans Academy and, with the 2013 AFL season kicking off this weekend, the young gun is determined to one day make the grade.
“Obviously Maitland is a league dominated area, but I started playing soccer when I was about seven,” Heeney said.
“Then a family friend said they wanted to go and try AFL, so I thought I’d give it a go too and it just went from there.”
Heeney was spotted playing in an under 12s PSSA tournament when he was picked by then coach Chris Smith, who has since moved on to coaching with the Swans.
From there, Heeney joined the Sydney academy, training twice a week at the University of Newcastle and the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground under the watchful eye of premiership coach Paul Roos.
Heeney, who plays for the Cardiff Hawks in the Black Diamond AFL competition, is also part of the level one AIS All Australian squad, with the year 11 student hopeful of graduating to level two and, from there, the AFL draft.
“I want to get to level two with the AIS which is the under 18s,” Heeney said.
“From there you get to nominate for the draft and I’d love the chance to play professionally and give it a go.”
And with the 2013 AFL season about to kick off, Heeney is hopeful his Sydney Swans heroes can make it back to back premierships.
“I’m not really sure about them this year,” Heeney said.
“I wasn’t that confident on them last season and the won the comp.
“They should make the top four though and from there anything can happen.”
Adelaide and Essendon kick off the season on Friday night, with Sydney’s battle of the bridge opener against Greater Western Sydney set down for a week Saturday.