THE 2021 VFL season is drawing closer, and Carlton’s side will have a Geelong connection at the helm.
Former Geelong Falcons and Geelong VFL coach Daniel O’Keefe was recently promoted to coach the Blues’ standalone side in the this year’s VFL competition.
He spent eight years working with elite junior talent at the Geelong Falcons in the NAB League – including coaching them to a flag in 2017 – and was previously an assistant coach with the Cats’ VFL side.
O’Keefe will retain his development coach position at the Carlton Blues to work with the club’s emerging players to ensure they reach their full potential at AFL level. He also coached the reserves side during the scratch matches held throughout 2020.
He said the reserves program presented a fantastic chance for players to fast-track their push for senior selection.
“Having coached our reserves side this year during the scratch matches, I can see how hungry our emerging talent is for their opportunity.
“What this second-tier competition gives them is the chance to push their case for selection directly within the Carlton system, which will only enhance their development.
“The pathway for our players is now really clear if they want to play seniors. Train hard, play well at reserve level and use your consistent performances to break into the AFL side.”
Players not selected in the AFL side each week will play in the VFL and East Coast Second-Tier competition, comprising 22 clubs across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
Carlton head of football Brad Lloyd said the club was excited to maximise the benefit of a standalone reserves side, with O’Keefe the ideal person to fill the role as coach.
“Since arriving at the Club 12 months ago, Dan has shown his exceptional quality as a development coach and this role will help him utilise his skillset to help take our development program to the next level.
“During our time away in the hubs this year, Dan went above and beyond to build really strong relationships with our emerging players. This has ensured our emerging group will take great momentum into the start of pre-season and into 2021.”
The 2021 VFL season begins on April 17.