JETS’ focus on youth may have made history in the NPL Qld on Saturday. Bertrum Speirs was given his senior debut at Magpies Crusaders at the age of 16 years nine months and 21 days.
Our investigations suggest he may be the youngster goalkeeper to play in the NPL Qld men’s competition.
When asked Football Queensland said it did not keep such statistics, but what a debut Bertrum had, saving a late penalty in Jets’ 4-1 victory up in Mackay.
Remarkably, he was not the youngest in Jets’ team. He started with Brad Stewart (two months younger) and Josh Hong (nine months older) who got their big break at the start of this month.
In fact Jets’ squad travelled with four teenagers, three players aged 20, four aged 21, two were 25 and one 28 …. making an average age of 20.7 years.
It was a continuation of Jets’ coach Pouria Nabi’s plan to further develop the pathway from juniors through to seniors.
“I thought Bertrum had a good game,” said Pouria, “he was one of the most confident new players I have seen.
“Playing goalkeeper is a tough position. Mistakes can be costly. But I thought he did most things right.
“He was one of a number of young players like Brad Stewart and Josh Hong who hve deserved a chance …. demanded to be given a chance.”
When Jets’ goalkeeper Chris Couesnon left to pursue new opportunities, Pouria said he preferred to give Bertrum a chance than bring in a more experienced keeper.
“It was a big step up,” said Bertrum, “there were some bumps and bruises at corners, but I wasn’t nervous.
“I felt comfortable. The other players were great. We trusted each other.
“Some things I could have done better and the coaches gave me feedback on those, but that match is history now. We have to start work for Saturday (against Western Pride, 6pm).”
The highlight of the game for the debutant was his penalty save - from the third spot kick he faced!
In the first half, Crusaders’ striker Michael Lyall sent Bertrum the wrong way from the spot. But the young keeper spotted his system.
“He looked to my left and shot to my right,” said Bertrum, “the second penalty he did the opposite, but shot over. The third penalty I went the right way and managed to save it.”
Bertrum played for ACE from Under 9-12 and Jets from Under 12-15. Then had a year at Brisbane Roar before returning last summer and has been playing up an age group for Jets’ Under 20s.
Jets player ages v Crusaders:
16 - Brad Stewart, Bertrum Speirs
17 - Josh Hong
19 - Omar Sidiqi
20 - Liam Cosgrove, Jackson Courtney-Perkins, Rhys Gwynn-Jones
21 - Ben Harris, Jamie Dimitroff, Declan Smith, Sam Dickinson
25 - Nick Bernardi, Riley Campbell
28 - Alex Tabillon