WHEN an 18-year-old Gema Simon played in the first Jets W-League side in 2008, Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury was her skipper.
International star Joey Peters was also in the team.
Both had played more than 100 games for the Matildas and offered their home-town team, and young teammates, a wealth of experience.
Five years on, Simon, 23, and vice-captain Hannah Brewer, 20, will lead a mostly young squad devoid of internationals and light on experience after the loss of retired skipper Hayley Crawford, Matildas vice-captain Emily van Egmond and Americans, Angela Salem, Tori Huster and Tiffany Boshers.
Taking their place will be young local talent like Libby Copus-Brown, Adriana Jones, the daughter of former Jets assistant coach Mark Jones, and Sophie Nenadovic.
All three teenagers played for the Emerging Jets this year.
Three former Brisbane Roar players, Ashley Spina, daughter of former rugby league star Laurie Spina, Hannah Beard and Lauren Brown, were also in the 18-strong squad named yesterday.
After they avoided the wooden spoon on goal difference last season, the young Jets face an uphill battle in 2013-14. Simon welcomed the challenge of leading the way.
‘‘It’s pretty exciting,’’ she said. ‘‘The first year I came in we had Cheryl Salisbury as captain, Joey Peters was in the side along with Kate Gill. Em was there as well.
‘‘We’ve had some pretty big-name players as captain so it’s a privilege to be named as Newcastle Jets captain.
‘‘Hopefully I can lead by example and set good standards for the girls, on and off the field, and they follow that.’’
The Jets kick off on November 9 at home to Perth at Wanderers Oval.
Simon said there was no hiding from the task ahead.
‘‘It will be a very tough season,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ve got a very young squad. The majority of our squad is under 20. I think our youngest is 15 and our oldest is 25.
‘‘We are classifying it as a development-type season, but at the end of the day we want to be competitive and we want to win. I think a lot of that will come down to just playing for each other.’’
Coach Peter McGuinness left two places open on his roster – one for Bronte Bates, who suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury recently at training.
The Jets play a trial against Sydney FC at Adamstown Oval on Saturday at 10am.
Jets: Eliza Campbell (gk), Brewer, Stacey Day, Siahn Bozanic, Spina, Simon, Maddy Searl, Tara Andrews, Rhali Dobson, Grace Macintyre, Beard, Jasmin Courtenay, Sophie Nenadovic, Copus-Brown, Cassidy Davis, Brown, Jones, Ainsley Buchanan (gk).