Hunter football great Graham Jennings believes the Northern NSW National Premier League has grown into a “very good competition” and one that deserves more attention as a breeding ground for the Newcastle Jets.
The 44-time capped Socceroo was on Tuesday honoured at the NPL season launch at Adamstown Oval with the announcement of the Graham Jennings Medal to be given to the competition’s annual player of the year. Northern NSW Football plans to name a medal after a women’s great to be given to the WPL equivalent.
Jennings, an Adamstown champion, was humbled to join Ray Baartz and Col Curran in having a local award bearing his name.
“We’ve got such a rich tapestry of players who’ve come through here,” Jennings said. “I’m very humbled and proud, but at the same time, I feel rather intimidated.”
The 58-year-old remains a keen Newcastle football follower and believes the NPL standard has improved.
“It’s a good level here,” he said. “Hopefully with the Jets doing well, we’ve got a World Cup coming, there’s something there we can take away from this local competition. Hopefully from here we’ll have players going into the Jets on a more regular basis.
“Just the touch the players have now,” he added. “It is a very good competition and it should get a bit more recognition than it does. For me, the north is such a breeding ground for players. Rather than us going to Sydney or Melbourne lower divisions, this is where it should be.”
The NPL season starts on Saturday with the Newcastle Jets Youth taking on Adamstown, Lambton Jaffas playing Edgeworth at Edden Oval (both 2.30pm). Maitland host Weston at 7pm.
On Sunday, Lake Macquarie welcome Broadmeadow (2.30pm) and Charlestown are away to Hamilton (6pm).