Grant O’Brien Becomes First Tasmania AFL Chief

Ben H / 10 July 2023

Grant O’Brien used to stock shelves at Woolworths before becoming the head of the supermarket behemoth. The former Woolworths CEO is making another ambitious step now and will take on the task of laying the groundwork for Tasmania’s AFL team before it enters the league in 2028.

A Bit of a Unicorn and a Tasmanian to the Core

O’Brien was unveiled as the inaugural chairman on Friday. He will chair a board of five, where two members will be selected by the government and two by the AFL.

The head of the 19th AFL team said he was excited and humbled but also knew that there was a lot of work ahead, as they were just “firing the starting gun” now.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said O’Brien was “a bit of a unicorn” in the sport, claiming his “football background and acumen,” as well as O’Brien’s passion and knowledge made him special and the ideal person for the role.

McLachlan called Tasmanians to watch videos of O’Brien speaking so that they know they have a true leader and said Grant was “Tasmanian to his core.”

2028 is not that Far Away

O’Brien said he would hit the ground running immediately and would appoint the board members by the end of August. Then he would map the team’s business plan and governance strategy, as well as organize the construction of training and administrative facilities.

Next, he would sign off on the team’s name, logo, and colours. If all goes well, he plans to finish all those things by the end of September. The merchandise should be ready by Christmas.

It might seem like O’Brien is trying to do too many things at once, but he feels “2028 doesn’t seem that far away” so the whole organization had a lot to do.

O’Brien Leaves Stadium Debate to the Politicians

McLachlan was confident that despite the problems surrounding the new stadium, the 19th AFL team would run out onto an oval at Macquarie Point in 2028. He knew the momentum and excitement were there when he saw the 7,000 people who went to watch Tasmania play State of Origin.

McLachlan is aware there will be “lots of ups and downs” and said some problems required constant communication. However, the business case for a Tasmania AFL team was “unimpeachable.”

O’Brien didn’t want to get involved in the debate, saying his job was to lead a process in which a club was created and he would think about nothing else.

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Ben H
Ben Harris is the Communications Manager for KRUZEY, an AFL expert, and writer. He has one daughter that he loves dearly and four children's books... [Read full bio]

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