Maitland's Andrew Pawiak prepares for NPL clash against former club

NEW CHALLENGE: Andrew Pawiak on the ball in a trial for Maitland ahead of their NPL season opener against the Newcastle Jets Youth on Saturday at Cooks Square Park. Picture: Michael Hartshorn
NEW CHALLENGE: Andrew Pawiak on the ball in a trial for Maitland ahead of their NPL season opener against the Newcastle Jets Youth on Saturday at Cooks Square Park. Picture: Michael Hartshorn

MAITLAND midfielder Andrew Pawiak sometimes sits at home watching youngsters get their chance in the A-League and thinks “it could have been me”.

The 20-year-old came closer than most, twice sitting on the Newcastle Jets bench without getting onto the field late in 2015.

He then captained the Jets Youth, who he will face on Saturday in the Magpies’ season opener at Cooks Square Park, through their 2016 Northern NSW National Premier League season before parting ways with the club.

“I had one summer season left but I was pretty much told I wouldn’t be needed for first grade so I just decided to leave early,” Pawiak said.

But as for wanting to prove a point on Saturday against his former team, Pawiak said: “To be honest, not really.

“I did everything I could to try and get into the first-grade squad. I was in amongst the training environment and whatnot, so I know what standard is required of players if you want to be in and around the A-League.

“I gave everything I could and it just wasn’t to be, I guess. I don’t feel as though I have a point to prove really. And the coaching staff there has changed since I was there.”

FRESH START: Maitland recruit Andrew Pawiak is tackled while playing for the Newcastle Jets Youth side in the NNSW NPL against Hamilton Olympic last year. Picture: Marina Neil

FRESH START: Maitland recruit Andrew Pawiak is tackled while playing for the Newcastle Jets Youth side in the NNSW NPL against Hamilton Olympic last year. Picture: Marina Neil

The high school PE teaching student conceded it was frustrating to come so close to becoming an A-League player at the Jets, but he was also not giving up on his footballing dream.

“For sure, I would have loved to get on,” he said.

“I watch the A-League at home and see youngsters get given a chance and I think sometimes it could have been me, but I wasn’t given the opportunity, so there’s not really anything I could have done about it and I’m enjoying what I’m doing now.

“We’ll see what happens. Time’s ticking away to become a professional but I feel I have a few years yet to try to pursue it. I’ll give it a good crack and if I get a break then obviously I’d be stoked, but if nothing comes of it, I can say that I gave it my best.”

Pawiak trialled in Norway last December and is set to join Southern New Hampshire University after the NPL season to study sports management and play for their NCAA division two team.

In the meantime, the Beresfield, Maitland, Thornton and Hunter Hawks junior is hoping to help the Magpies feature again in the finals. He signed with Maitland, who finished fourth and lost to Edgeworth in the 2016 semis, after exploring his NPL options elsewhere.

“It’s been good,” he said. 

“The transition to the team has been pretty easy.

“I looked into Sydney and Melbourne, but they had already filled up most of their rosters, so that was another reason to stay and play here.  

“Everything just fell into place with Maitland. They are a good bunch of boys and they have a handy squad.”