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Steve Hocking Named Geelong Cats CEO

T
he AFL has confirmed executive general manager of football, Steve Hocking, has left his position at the league to join the Geelong Football Club (Geelong Cats) as the club’s new CEO.

Hocking first joined the AFL in 2017 following his previous experience with the Geelong Cats as their head of football and will finish his current role at the AFL on Thursday and begin at Geelong in October.

Announcing the departure, AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan, said the executive general manager of football role is taxing, especially due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and throughout 2021 so far.

“It is a relentless job, but Steve (Hocking) has made an enormous contribution to the AFL and the wider AFL industry during his time in the role,” McLachlan said.

“He is a values-driven leader who has brought calm, confidence and consistency to the operations of football across the AFL, AFLW, VFL, VFLW and NAB Leagues and his approach is much-respected and valued by his colleagues and the wider industry.

“He has brought improvement to every aspect of the game, whether it’s the growth of the NAB AFLW competition, the expansion of mental health and welfare initiatives across the clubs, rule changes that have opened up the game and made it more spectacular, the development and implementation of the ARC and the ongoing development of umpires.

“The football being played in this AFL season, and the earlier AFLW season, have each been exceptional and that is a testament to the work of Steve and his team.

“This is a great opportunity for Steve and the Geelong Cats for the next step in his career and he goes with our gratitude and blessings and I know he will continue to contribute to the industry in his role at clubland,” he said.

Speaking on his decision, Hocking said: “The game is well-served by so many people who work together to ensure it is the best it can be.”

“I can’t praise enough the efforts of our football operations team and the wider AFL organisation in navigating the pandemic.

“I also want to thank the clubs, the coaches, players and umpires and the wider industry for the way they have embraced the changes needed to ensure football continued for our members and supporters through this period.

“It has not been an easy time but the relationships across the industry mean our game is in good hands,” Hocking said.

Stepping into Geelong’s CEO role, Hocking will replace Brian Cook who is currently the longest-serving CEO in the AFL, spending 22 years in the role.

Geelong president, Craig Drummond, said: “Steve Hocking’s deep football and commercial experience is the perfect combination for our next CEO.”

“I am confident that Steve’s values-based leadership, discipline and focus will continue to drive a culture of high performance and success for the club.

“As a strong advocate for the AFL industry, Steve has driven higher standards across all elements of football, including the quality of the game, diversity, and the mental health of all industry participants.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve back to the club,” Drummond said.

Andrew Dillon is set to step into the AFL’s executive general manager of football role on an interim basis until the end of the 2021 AFL season.