By NEAFL MEDIA
Brisbane Lions Academy member Ben Sloan made a promise to tackle this season “head on” after coming within a whisker of being selected in last year’s AFL Draft.
Sloan caught the attention of AFL recruiters thanks to strong performances across Under-18 National Championships for the Lions Academy and Allies, and NEAFL for Brisbane and Redland in a jam-packed 2017 season.
He had strong interest from the Western Bulldogs right up until the day of the AFL Draft in November, but it wasn’t to be.
“The morning of the draft, the Dogs called me and said they weren’t going to pick me up,” Sloan said.
“Like anything, obviously you would be pretty shattered when you don’t get drafted. But I just didn’t want to dwell on it because that’s when your dreams get crushed, and that’s when you start to doubt yourself and your own ability.
“For me, I just moved past it and I just wanted to tackle this year head on, and see where it could take me.”
The 18-year-old certainly picked up where he left off this year, playing in every match so far for the Lions and producing a career-best match on Saturday.
The 18-year-old was named among the Lions’ best players after 23 disposals, 10 marks and two goals in their 93-point victory at Spotless Stadium, earning the Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star nomination as a result.
After moving between several teams last year, Sloan said he is relishing the opportunity to play consistent NEAFL football in 2018.
“I played for six different teams last year. It was hard to juggle it all, plus school and everything, but definitely in terms of playing with the NEAFL sides and getting selected in the Allies, it gives you that exposure to the AFL clubs,” he said.
“I was thankful enough to play a few NEAFL games last year so I guess it put me on the radar, and I had a few interviews and nearly got drafted.
“Compared to the academy series last year, it (playing NEAFL this year) has definitely helped me improved dramatically, I can tell that.
“I’m really enjoying it. The boys get around me and they make me feel part of the team. It’s a really good vibe and atmosphere to be around.”
Predominately a half-forward, it is Sloan’s versatility and athleticism which has contributed to his vast potential – and he plans to make the most of it.
“I don’t really see myself in a set position. Wherever they put me I’ll just try my best and play my best footy in that position,” he said.
“The older boys in the team take you under their wing and it just good to be around boys like that who really embracing. I feel pretty blessed.”
The Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games (excluding games as AFL Academy players) at the start of the 2018 season.
Keep track of all our 2018 nominees here.
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