Western Jets have secured two-time Sydney Swans premiership star Ryan O’Keefe to coach the TAC Cup club.
O’Keefe will take over from Torin Baker, who recently moved to Hawthorn in a development coaching role.
O’Keefe will be entrusted with nurturing the top footballers in the western suburbs with his role encompassing overseeing the football academy program at the Maribyrnong Sports Academy.
The 37-year-old is best known for his stellar career as a player in the AFL.
O’Keefe was pivotal in the Swans 2005 and 2012 premierships.
A big game midfield/half forward, he peaked on grand final day in 2012, taking out the Norm Smith Medal for best-on-ground in the grand final.
After being drafted from the Calder Cannons, O’Keefe’s AFL career spanned 286 games for 261 goals.
“Ryan O’Keefe will be making a return to the competition he was drafted from close to 20 years ago at the Calder Cannons and will bring a unique mindset of being able to relate to and understand the needs of players at this level and what will be required of them at that next level as they progress,” AFL Victoria state talent manager Paul Hamilton said.
“The players at both the Western Jets and Maribyrnong Sports Academy will benefit from having such an experienced person at the helm, who will be able to utilise his knowledge of playing at the highest level, and coaching at state level in the SANFL.
“O’Keefe, as a level four coach, will play an important role in helping further develop players in our under 18 system, but also those who are aspiring to take their game further with the Sports Academy, spending time on their skills on and off the field.”
O’Keefe will not be going into the Jets coaching role cold, having spent the past four seasons in coaching roles with the Adelaide Crows, firstly as midfield development coach and then coach of the Crows SANFL team.
Maribyrnong Sports Academy director Mark McAllion was thrilled to bring O’Keefe in because of his understanding of what it takes to make it to the top level.
“It’s very exciting to partner with AFL Victoria and the Western Jets to have someone with Ryan’s experience both as a player and a coach join the Academy’s coaching ranks,” he said.
“Torin Baker did a fantastic job in developing the program over recent years and we now look forward to Ryan taking it to an even higher level, in conjunction with assistant coaches Scott Lucas and Leon Harris.
“The Academy’s AFL student-athletes are definitely very fortunate to be coached and mentored by such high quality individuals.”