HARLEY Balic has announced his retirement, effective immediately, from the AFL.
After playing four games with Fremantle in 2017, Balic crossed to Melbourne at the end of last season. He was traded to Melbourne in exchange for pick No.65.
Despite showing some promise with Casey Demons, the 21-year-old said he no longer had the passion to play the game.
“It was an easy decision in the end, as I’ve thought about it for a little while now,” he told Melbourne Media.
“It’s something I’m not going to regret and I’m very appreciative to Melbourne for letting me come to the club for a second chance.
“I’ve always loved football, but my heart’s not in it and everything ends up being a grind and I think it’s just the right thing to do.
“The [club’s] VFL and AFL [teams] are both going to be successful this year and it’s something I’d love to be a part of, if I loved it, but unfortunately I don’t and it’s time to go out into the real world and see what else is out there for me.”
Originally drafted by Fremantle at selection No.38 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, Balic was sidelined with a wrist injury in his first year, before he made his AFL debut for the Dockers against the Western Bulldogs in round three, 2017.
Hailing from Mordialloc-Braeside/Sandringham Dragons, Balic came back to Victoria last year due to personal reasons. He had also spoken publicly about dealing with mental health issues.
Although he didn’t play an AFL match for Melbourne, he played 11 games for Casey this year, including its most recent victory over Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.
In his first match for Casey against Coburg at Piranha Park, he booted six goals. He also kicked three goals against Port Melbourne at Stannards Stadium (North Port Oval).
General manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said Balic’s decision was the right one for him at this stage of his life.
“AFL football is a tough and uncompromising industry that requires players to be fully invested and have the drive and passion to thrive. We have been in discussions with Harley throughout the year and support his decision to retire and move on with his life,” he told Melbourne Media.