Dan Overeem grew up playing football in Tasmania, and brought the love of the sport to Tamworth when he relocated to the city with his family in his late teens. The mighty Kangaroos were the club he joined back then, and there he has remained – claiming four premierships, and this month becoming the first AFL North West player to notch 300 games and 1000 goals, achieving both magical milestones in the same game.
Dan Overeem’s senior AFL debut occurred just as the Internet got exciting and fomented the gush of congratulations for the trivial, much of it self-generated.
It was 1998.
Twenty years later, Overeem accomplished something truly noteworthy.
At No.1 Oval on August 11, the 37-year-old forward played his 300th game, becoming the first AFL North West player to do so. In the same match, he became the first player to reach 1000 goals.
Watching as usual was his wife, Sarah, who grew up following rugby league and rugby union but became an AFL convert after she met her Tasmanian-raised husband when he moved to Tamworth with his family two decades ago. Beside Sarah will be the couple’s children, Abbey, 6, and Jack, 5.
“We’re very proud of him,” Sarah said. “He plays because he enjoys the sport, and we encourage him to play as long as his body allows him to play.”
“He always has been very driven,” she added. “… He’s starting to slow down now in the drive, but that’s understandable.”
After playing junior footy in Hobart, Overeem debuted in Tamworth in the second season of the then Tamworth-based competition, when the Roos were known as Nuttsy’s Bulldogs. He was there when the Bulldogs became the Cargill Kangaroos in 1999 and the Tamworth Kangaroos in 2002.
He was also there when the Kangaroos won the 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2011 premierships – Roos life membership bestowed on him. And he will be there when the side bids to keep their season alive against the Tamworth Swans on Saturday.
He's rightfully proud of his football resume, and was “very excited” to play his 300th games.
“It’s an achievement,” he said before the match. “I’ve had good feedback from the family and friends, saying that it’s an amazing effort just to get to that point and that the body’s allowed me to play that many games.”
Being a one-club player makes the milestone even more special to him. He has “grown to love” the club, where he has met “so many great people”.
Lifetime friendships have been forged. The boy became a man, a husband, a father. And throughout it all, the backdrop to his life has been coloured blue and white.