Being a leader is difficult in its own right, but leading through change is an even greater challenge.
Jordan Keras is dealing with that challenge as he returns to Geelong to begin the next chapter of his football career.
The 24-year-old joined Geelong’s VFL program for season 2018 and, after a strong preseason, Keras impressed his peers enough to be voted into the leadership group.
After holding a leadership role at NEAFL club Southport in 2017, the midfielder wanted to further his development on returning to his hometown club.
“I came off being a vice-captain at Southport so I wanted to continue my leadership at the next footy club I went to,” he said.
He proved his ability to set a high standard for his teammates on the Gold Coast and became a household name in the NEAFL in his two years for the Sharks.
Moving to Queensland in 2016 to finish off his University degree, Keras made a splash in his first season at Southport, finishing runner-up in their best and fairest.
The inside midfielder took his game to a new level in 2017 by dominating the competition to win the NEAFL MVP.
“I think my first year I was just getting used to playing up there but last year was probably the best season of football I’ve played,” Keras said.
He is a marquee signing for the VFL Cats this year on pure talent alone, but Keras is hoping to do more than just lead by example in 2018.
The young star is planning to use his experience and leadership qualities to nurture the young Geelong players on and off the field.
“To have some younger boys around here, it is nice to share my experiences with them and I think that will be the biggest thing, to lead from the front,” he said.
The Cats’ VFL squad features a variety of young draft hopefuls whilst also having a host of numerous seasoned VFL players and Keras is hoping he can help them all achieve their goals.
“It will work well having a mixed group of younger and older players at Geelong and (the coaches) want me to drive that leadership stuff on and off the field so I will play a big role in that this year,” Keras said.
“Making sure the younger boys understand the VFL system and to nurture them through as well whilst challenging the older boys to help them have success this year.”
Due to the VFL Cats being an AFL aligned club, the side will be changing week-to-week and Keras and his fellow leaders will be dealing with a variety of AFL and VFL listed players.
Depending on injuries, AFL selection and players’ form, the VFL side can be unknown until the eve of a game, making it difficult for preparation and highlighting the importance of being able to adapt.
Keras believes he is up to the challenge of trying to get everyone to be on the same page and is looking forward to seeing how the players of different levels can work together.
“This year will have a young list of players coming down from AFL so to drive their standards as well and play the Geelong way will be the first challenge,” he said.
“As well as making sure that both the VFL and AFL boys play the Geelong way together will be the most important thing so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes.”