Whatever Port Saints Football Club are doing, it seems to be working.
Flynn Goodman (Maitland) along with Aaron Oppedisano and Riley Smith (both Charlestown) are the latest batch of players to have played their junior football at Saints before they progressed further.
The trio ran around in the National Premier League (NPL) first grade competition in Newcastle this season while another Saints product - Adam Sherratt - also trained with the Newcastle Jets in their senior system.
For those unaware, the NPL first grade competition is the step below potential selection for the Jets and the A-League.
Angus Thurgate is the most-recognised Saints prodigy to have progressed further with Thurgate now a mainstay of the Jets' squad at just 21 years of age.
Saints president Laura Noble said the key reason why they had seen a number of their players further their careers in recent seasons had been the result of a change in club culture.
"It's not always a popular opinion, but our club culture in the last five or six years has been on individuals achieving their best rather than a focus on winning premierships," she said.
"All kids have the opportunity to play and play well, but you have to get them enthusiastic. There's no point me standing around telling them who can play and who can't."
Noble also attributed the club's ability to focus on how to better their players' football experience as another key ingredient.
"The club can't take credit for anybody's hard work and determination, but I do think our club culture contributes to those pathways," she said.
"We're pro-Junior Development League (JDL) and the Skills Acquisition Program (SAP) pathways that are run by Football Mid North Coast.
"The players get that really rounded experience with those programs which helps the kids find their niche in the sport."
The elite Newcastle competition provided the strong platform for players to further their career while not having to balance the professional side of football while still studying.
"It's nice our regional kids are able to showcase themselves, even being from an area that places like Newcastle see as country," Noble said.
Football Mid North Coast technical director Larry Budgen said they were proud to see any player progress through the ranks.
"It's good that the players who still have a football dream can play in the NPL; it's better than pulling beers while they're studying," he said.
"They can earn between $300 and $400 a match.
"It's a good environment for their younger days and Port Saints deserve credit even though the CPL table didn't show much this season."
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