The AFL Grand Final last Saturday afternoon had many memorable moments. Moments that showed the fierce strength and determination of a team of exceptional footballers. Moments of skill and finesse that can only come from thousands of hours of practice. Moments of sheer joy and elation when the game was won. But these moments could be true of almost every Grand Final. 

This game was different. It was different because of the gestures of love and kindness on show by our captain. As we celebrate the awesome achievements of the Geelong Football Club this year – success which has been built over several decades – our community can only beam with pride at the genuine humanity displayed by Joel Selwood.

As an elite athlete, a record breaking, once-in-a-generation footballer, Joel has led the Cats with a winning ‘team-first’ mindset. But he has also shown that he sees the team as bigger than the on-field players. 

His thoughtfulness to carry Levi Ablett through the game-day banner, gifting his game boots to the young Auskick player, and running to invite Sam Moorfoot to join in the celebrations are all part of his intrinsic value set.  A value set that believes in people and community. 

This is community leadership. His actions generated genuine emotion and respect. His actions resonated around the world. What an example he leaves for us to follow.

In Geelong we can also be proud that we have a community leadership program with the chief aim to build a cohort of people that see community strength, connection, and resilience as vital for our future. 

With over 500 alumni, the Leaders for Geelong program builds leadership capacity, deep regional knowledge, and community connections. This year’s group are finalising their community projects and preparing to publicly present them at our Project Presentation Lunch on 13 October. These projects are selected to assist in supporting local not-for-profit and community organisations and help raise awareness of issues in our region.

This year, the groups have completed projects championed by Barwon Adolescent Taskforce (BATForce), Geelong Sustainability, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation, Northern Geelong Rental Housing Co-operative and the Making Change: Creative Industries Taskforce.

As the 2022 group moves closer to graduation, the Committee for Geelong is now setting its sights to the future and opening up applications to join the Leaders for Geelong program in 2023.

The 12-month program is based on four pillars of learning and experience – Living Leadership, Industry, Community and Connection. Taking a blended learning approach, participants gain exposure to a variety of leadership learning experiences through workshops, online seminars, offsite events around Geelong and, of course, their community projects.

A highlight of the program is the annual Canberra Delegation, gaining valuable insight into the workings of Federal Parliament, and learning in real time about the importance of having a strong and clear voice for Geelong represented at all levels of government.

Guest speakers include subject matter experts and great local leaders from all walks of life, sharing their inspiring stories and knowledge. We encourage applications from anyone who wants to build on their leadership skills and expertise and connect with great people and learn about the issues and opportunities we face as a region. More information regarding pricing and scholarships can be found on the Committee for Geelong website, including an application form to the program.

Be inspired by the Grand Final win, but also be moved to action to be like Joel. We need more Joel Selwoods who see leadership as an opportunity to build community, help support people and include everyone along the journey. After all, we are Geelong – the greatest team of all.   

*Tickets for the Project Presentation Lunch at the Pier on 13 October close this Sunday and can be purchased via

Image: Yahoo Sport