Football, faith, tragedy: the story of Ziggy

By Jonty Ralphsmith

The interview time has just exceeded an hour when it ends.

One could talk to Dandenong Stingray Ziggy Toledo-Glasman and dad, Simon, for double that time and still feel like they haven’t captured it all, such is the allure of his field trip and of its off-field businesses.

Ziggy is engaged and caring, in tune with every element of his life, and Dad speaks with pride and love.

The initial videoconference is limited to 40 minutes and cuts the pair to their Mount Martha home as they discuss family Judaism.

Although not Jewish herself, mom, Tully, now divorced from Simon, supports the faith, so Ziggy and her five siblings had a Jewish upbringing.

For as long as he can remember, weekends with Dad have always started with a Sabbath dinner, usually at Ziggy’s grandparents in Caulfield.

“I always promote (Judaism) even though (Ziggy) doesn’t go to a Jewish school, I hope he has a good idea of ​​what it is to be Jewish and understands that we believe in God,” Simon said. nod of his head confirming his conviction.

“We should just treat people the way we want to be treated and we should follow a basic humanitarian code of ethics that you do the right thing by people and good things will happen to you which he’s been great with.”

There is a clan of 15 family catch-ups: grandparents, dad, Ziggy, his five brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Grandfather, Mordechai, is a Holocaust survivor and moved to Australia in 1962 with his wife, Sara.

His grandfather’s ordeal is part of the impetus for Ziggy’s desire to carry the name “Glasman” – he will soon add the name to his surname legally, after a mutual family decision was made there years ago to legally change his name and that of his siblings. in ‘Toledo’.

Simon says Ziggy is number one with grandparents.

“It’s something I love to do, there are a lot of calls throughout the week (plus catch-ups) and it’s cool to know they care about what I’m doing,” Ziggy said.

“They try their best to attend as many games as possible, they don’t really understand but they always ask when I will be drafted and if they will have tickets.”

At the age of 13, Ziggy held a “Bar Mitzvah”, a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, during which he prayed in front of approximately 200 family members and friends, after passing near a year to learn Hebrew and connect with his Jewish identity.

Observing their faith, the family attend Temple Beth Israel Synagogue, St Kilda, on major holidays including Yom Kippur, Jewish New Year and Passover, which Ziggy enjoys.

There he experiences a world his grandparents are well used to and attributes much of his success to his support network, including non-blood “cousins”.

“Each time, there is a Sermen rabbi,” explains Ziggy.

“They talk about life topics and you sit there and listen and try to relate it to what’s going on in your life.

“It’s my favorite part because I understand it and it puts into perspective what your life is about and what your problems are versus the problems of others around the world.

“For me, that’s the most beneficial part because you get a glimpse of what a wise, knowledgeable person is thinking, we sit together in a corner and all listen, so it’s a pretty cute experience. “


Dandenong welfare coordinator Adele White found out earlier this year.

When she heard about Toledo-Glasman’s volunteerism, her first instinct was to nominate him for the NAB Personal Growth Award – an award that celebrates players who demonstrate outstanding leadership and contribution to their communities. .

Although Toledo-Glasman did not win the award, he was recognized as a finalist on Morrish Medal Night.

Ziggy’s family co-founded the Wonder Woman Walk, an annual walk since 2016 from Safety Beach to Portsea that raises awareness and funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF).

It came after close family friend Helen Powell was diagnosed with the disease in 2013, leading to her death on Valentine’s Day 2020.

What started as a march between Ms Powell and loved ones, including Ziggy’s mother, in 2016 grew into a convoy of 200 in 2019 and, recognizing the success of the event, the OCRF has made it an annual part of their timeline and it has since been renamed “Walk with Woman”.

This year’s march, on Feb. 6, was the first Ziggy attended, but he has always supported the cause.

“I help mom create all the ads and banners and do a lot behind the scenes to organize the day,” he said.

“During sixth grade, I organized a white shirt day to represent ovarian cancer and raise some money. It’s a bit moving subject because she was a second mother for me and I miss her a lot.

“It’s a disease that has affected my family quite massively and theirs as well, so just to be able to support that and provide money for research that was doing a lot for families, it was good to know we were helping.

Helping to coach an Under-14 side to a premiership at his community club with Stingrays teammates Billy Taylor and Owen Williams was also part of his appointment.


Dandenong manager Nick Cox says Toledo-Glasman is currently the most talked about player on the phone with AFL scouts.

There is a plot around him.

The key developing striker, who has reached 195 centimeters this year, missed the first half of the season with an ankle injury.

This denied clubs the chance to see him push for Vic Country selection, but he showed glimpses in his eight NAB League games.

In his debut against GWV, the 18-year-old had a few moments.

One of the goals was a remarkable bender tucked across the boundary line with its momentum flying away from the goal face; another saw him catch the ball from a ruck contest and break the sealer.

It started a five-game streak where he scored multiple goals, finishing with 14.9 for the year, as he showed an ability to create something out of thin air with his size or following.

AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan noted his agility and opportunism in commentary on his opener.

“The Great West game, I just wanted to enjoy my footy and see where I was in the NAB League pecking order, and I felt the game against Bendigo was a little taste of who I was. able to do”, Toledo- says Glasmann.

“My confidence grew after that, I felt like I belonged and I was able to compete. I didn’t have the homecoming that I would have liked, but it was a nice season and I am looking forward to next season.

He was part of the Stingrays’ Grand Finals, with success seemingly following Toledo-Glasman, who won five premierships and played in three other Grand Finals as a junior.

Dad coached three of them, in his formative years, before former St Kilda player Kain Taylor took over and recognized his talent.

“In under about 12 years I was probably the most unfit player on the team and Kain saw that I had the skills and the potential to be a decent player but that was holding me back so he held me back. done running sessions and working hard in practice to improve that, and it became a strength of my game.

In an Under-12 grand final, Toledo-Glasman scored four of his club’s five goals to lead them to a premiership against perennial rivals Edithvale-Aspendale at Lloyd Park.

“I remember thinking that day that maybe I could do something with my football and it could be a bit more than a hobby.

“Today was a milestone even with what I’ve achieved now.”

His ball reading and attacking craft have always been traits and he got involved well as a winger in the second half of the NAB League Grand Final, a position he had hoped to play earlier. in the season but for the injury limiting his aerobic capacity. .

Will a club be willing to take a punt due to limited exposure?

He hasn’t had an official interview yet, but his invitation to the state suit, along with what he’s hearing from Cox and his management at Mac Sports, affirms some interest, believed to be coming from at least four clubs.

Maybe for grandparents Mordechai and Sara, those AFL tickets aren’t as far-fetched as they once seemed.

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