Jets youth hang tough in state league

NEWCASTLE youth league player of the year and Broadmeadow junior Andrew Hoole believes the Jets under-20 squad will stick together for the state league season after Northern NSW Football reaffirmed its support for the team yesterday.

Opposition coaches in the state league feared the youth team would dissolve in light of Hunter Sports Group’s decision on Tuesday to relinquish its A-League licence.

They called on the Northern NSW board to consider ending the youth team’s maiden season in the state league to avoid a complicated exit later in the year.

But the board decided at its monthly board meeting last night to keep the side in the competition.

The decision was made to support the region’s elite young players and in the hope that Newcastle will have an A-League club next season.

Hoole, 18, said the decision was a positive one for the squad, who play South Cardiff tomorrow at Ulinga Park in round two.

The Australian under-19 representative believed the group would repay the show of faith with loyalty to the cause.

‘‘It’s good news for the boys and hopefully we can kick on for the season and show people what we’re made of,’’ Hoole said. ‘‘There’s still a lot of confidence that there will be a team there next year.

‘‘It’s a tight bunch, so I’m pretty confident the boys are still going to look out for each other and hopefully we can stick together for the state league season and beyond.’’

Hoole, who is on a break and will not play against the Gunners, said ‘‘not much has been spoken about’’ whether the squad’s interstate talent might leave.

But he said he intended to see out the campaign.

‘‘The Jets are a great club despite what’s happened and I’m just happy to stay there at the moment,’’ Hoole said.

NNSWF chief executive David Eland said he had contacted seven state league club presidents yesterday and all supported the board’s decision.

‘‘They support the fact that while ever there is an opportunity that Newcastle can maintain a presence in the A-League, it makes total sense to keep providing this opportunity,’’ Eland said.

‘‘But one message we got from the clubs was just continue to give us an opportunity to provide feedback throughout the season, which we would do anyway.’’

Clubs were concerned the Jets would lose players through the season and struggle to remain competitive.

The situation would be monitored closely and the federation would do its best to ‘‘juggle the expectations’’ of the youth team and the other clubs.

‘‘Frankly it has been a concern of the clubs from the get-go,’’ Eland said.

He has asked Jets CEO Robbie Middleby to keep him informed about changes to the youth team roster.

‘‘While the board has reaffirmed their support of the Jets to participate, the integrity of the competition is vital,’’ Eland said. ‘‘And while the welfare of these elite players is front of mind, so are our member clubs.’’

The youth team play all their matches away from home, meaning clubs have an extra opportunity to earn gate and canteen takings.

Eland conceded the financial benefits would be in the minds of clubs but believed their motives were genuine.

‘‘Their support was linked to the fact that they all want the Jets to have a presence in the A-League and if this can support that, then they are right behind it,’’ he said.

The Jets have only 17 players registered to compete in the state league and may struggle to bolster that number after HSG’s decision.

The future of Newcastle’s W-League team, which HSG abandoned, was no clearer after the board meeting.

Eland said that he had asked questions yesterday of Football Federation Australia on behalf of the NNSWF board and was awaiting a response.

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