THE football landscape on the Mid North Coast has changed significantly since Angus Thurgate was last in town.
He moved to Newcastle two years ago to pursue an A-League career with the Jets because there weren’t too many opportunities to do so in Port Macquarie.
In coming years, that will change for talented youngsters in the region after the Jets announced a regional training hub would be located in the Hastings.
On December 13, the former Port Saints junior and Newcastle Jet made the two and a half hour trip north alongside club chief executive Lawrie McKinna.
The visit was about grassroots football and Thurgate answered the odd curly question from Football Mid North Coast’s skills acquisition program players.
Questions relating to how hard you have to work in an A-League setup along with queries about playing at the Jets were hurled from the group of about 30.
The vast majority of them, coincidentally, were Port Saints juniors – the same club Thurgate played for when the Jets came calling.
It was the 17-year-old’s first visit to the Hastings since he linked up with Newcastle.
It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to do with Football Mid North Coast and it was good to see the progress [the game has] made.Angus Thurgate
“It was good to see where football is going in the area,” he said.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to do with Football Mid North Coast and it was good to see the progress [the sport has] made.”
The talented attacking midfielder admitted it was a surprise to see so many juniors from his former club.
“It was cool to see that the kids are going through the same pathway I did and doing the training and the same things I did once as well,” he said.
“Hopefully I can make a good role model for the young kids to look up to, but there’s still a lot of work for me to do before I get to that stage.”
Thurgate said the confirmation of the regional training hub in Port Macquarie was another sign of football’s growth in the region.
“The amount of coaches that are willing to support the kids and the amount of knowledge [that they have] is needed in the area,” he said.
Hopefully I can make a good role model for the young kids to look up to, but there’s still a lot of work for me to do before I get to that stage.Angus Thurgate
“There are a lot of talented kids that could have gone under the radar before which hopefully will be less with the introduction of the new football hub out at Thrumster in coming years.”
The teenager would have been forgiven for being slightly jealous of the pathway that has been created for up-and-coming footballers.
He didn’t have that opportunity, but admitted he was more than happy with what was available two years ago.
“This is another step in the right direction of making football more dominant in the area,” he said.