THE Jets need to be better at including their fan base outside of Newcastle.
That’s the opinion of chief executive Lawrie McKinna after several years of neglecting their supporter-base, including those on the Mid-North Coast.
McKinna has only been in the Jets hot seat for the last nine months, but he has already done some groundwork to make the Jets more visible in the community.
He wants to change the minimal engagement the club has with their fans with a strategy that includes coaching clinics, a trial game in Port Macquarie and a chance for 25 of the best local players to face the A-League side.
“I don’t think we’ve done enough in Newcastle so if you don’t think the Jets have done enough in Port Macquarie you’re spot on,” he said.
“We have not engaged the community, but in the last six to nine months we’ve done a bit more.
“Next year we’ll definitely be doing more because we need to.”
McKinna said talk of a Jets pre-season trial match in the Hastings was more than a pipe dream.
“It’s not just a pipe dream; if you can get support off the council that’s something we’d love to do,” he said.
“We would love to come up because if we know there is an appetite then we would start working on getting teams like Central Coast or Brisbane to come.”
If the pre-season trial match got off the ground, it is hoped it would be the main attraction of the Jets visit to the area.
“We’ll do our best to make sure it’s good value for the community because it will be on when the season is on,” he said.
“We’d love to get some of our boys out watching some games and let’s see if we can identify some players we can have a look at.”
It’s not just a pipe dream; if you can get support off the council that’s something we’d love to do.
If they were good enough they could then follow in the footsteps of Angus Thurgate who is making an impression in the Hunter.
Despite the Jets season finishing on Saturday night, Thurgate is in the box seat to make his first grade debut next season after an impressive showing at training.
“I’ve been told Angus was in a different class,” McKinna said.
“If this was the middle of the season he would be signed for the first team squad.
“It shows a pathway that if someone like Angus Thurgate from Port Macquarie is selected in the A-League, suddenly everyone in Port Macquarie wants to play for the Newcastle Jets because they’ve seen one of their own do it.”
McKinna said the A-League pre-season was the longest pre-season in world football and taking players to regional areas was the tonic they needed to stay fresh.
If someone like Angus Thurgate from Port Macquarie is selected in the A-League, suddenly everyone in Port Macquarie wants to play for the Newcastle Jets.
Having a presence on the Mid-North Coast annually would not only help the players, but increase the Jets supporter base.
“Whenever we get the boys away they enjoy the interaction with the kids and the coaches enjoy getting away from Newcastle and spending time with other coaches,” McKinna said.
One thing is for sure, the Jets need to do better to engage the community and Lawrie McKinna looks to be the man to include areas outside the Hunter.