The Newcastle Jets this week delivered on its promise to return the club to those who rightly own it – the community and ‘Football Family’ of Newcastle, the Hunter and Northern NSW – when it hosted the inaugural meeting of the Jets Football Advisory Board.
The meeting, held this week at the Jets’ head office at Wickham, formally ‘handed over’ control of the club’s on and off field direction to the Football Advisory Board.
Chaired by former Socceroo and football legend Ray Baartz, the Board becomes the custodian of the Jets’ efforts to achieve excellence in the A-League, the National Youth League, the W-League and creating elite pathways for young players.
Baartz said the assembly of some of the region’s sharpest football minds meant the club was well placed to achieve its goals.
“Our job is to make sure the Jets continue to be a club we can all be proud of on and off the field,” Baartz said.
“A big focus will be put on ensuring young boys and girls have opportunities to go on to play elite football for the Jets and W-League Jets teams.
“Northern NSW Football are already doing a great job in this area and we’re able to provide assistance there in ways that might not have been available in the past.
“Equally important to us is ensuring Jets home games stay affordable for families so that they can attend regularly.”
Jets Executive Chairman Ken Edwards, who will sit on the Board as the Owner’s Representative, said the formation of the Football Advisory Board was a key vision of Jets owner Nathan Tinkler.
“Right from the start our charter has been to ensure the Jets are owned by the community and run for the community,” Edwards said.
“The Football Advisory Board is crucial to this vision.
“We have assembled a terrific group of people who are dedicated to working towards not only success at an elite level, but creating opportunities and pathways at a grassroots level.”
The Jets Football Advisory Board is comprised of Ray Baartz, Ken Edwards, Joe Senkalski, Jeffrey Green, Cheryl Salisbury, Neil Jameson and Keith Harris.
Senkalski (a former Socceroo) and Harris both played in the region’s KB United National Soccer League side of the early 1980’s, with Harris being involved in junior development and coaching for most of his career.
Jameson, a journalist with the Newcastle Herald, was crucial in the formation of the KB United Club and mentored one of Australian football’s greats in Craig Johnston. A respected journalist and student of the game, he provides further expertise in strengthening the club’s ties to the community.
Salisbury is undoubtedly Australian football’s greatest female player and the most capped Australian player of all time with 151 appearances for the Matildas. A born and bred Novacastrian, Salisbury’s experience and influence across the Women’s game will be crucial in further developing elite pathways for junior girls and the development of the W-League Jets.
Green, President of Northern NSW Football and its representative on the Football Advisory Board, is the Board’s permanent go-to link with the Jets’ grassroots football community, and is at the forefront of Northern NSW Football’s efforts to expand and develop the region’s playing stocks.