YOUTH is being given a big opportunity in the Moreton Bay United men’s team.
Brad Stewart, 16, was the latest to be given a taste of NPL action at high-flying Gold Coast Knights last weekend.
On the day Jets had 10 players aged 21 or under - six of them teenagers - in a 16-man squad.
Defender Stewart started along with attacking midfielder Josh Hong, 17. Rhys West, 18, Liam Garnaut, 17 and Bertrum Speirs, 16, were on the bench.
And the trend could continue on tomorrow when another of the title-chasers Olympic visit Wolter Park, kick-off 6pm.
“It is good experience for these young players, getting used to the intensity of these games,” Jets’ coach Pouria Nabi said, “they have come in - and done well.”
Josh Hong, who was on the left wing at Knights, admitted it was a “huge step up in the physicality and speed of the game”.
“The speed didn’t surprise me because I have been watching the games, but actually getting in there in a whole different thing.
“The coaches have been really good this year, pushing us to the next level. And the boys welcomed us into the team.”
Brad Stewart’s senior debut came at short notice. “The coach rang the day before to say I’d be on the bench at Gold Coast,” he said.
“I didn’t find out I was starting until I got to the ground! I was excited. It felt good, but a little nervous.
“There was room for improvement in my game on the day, but I enjoyed it. I’ve just got to keep training hard and improving.”
That continued this week ahead of the visit of Olympic, who could go top of the NPL Queensland if they win all their games in hand.
“It will be a huge challenge for us,” said Josh Hong, “if we put on another good performance like at the weekend we will be right in there, because Gold Coast Knights were pretty good as well.”
Jets squad at Gold Coast Knights:
(Average age starting XI – 21.8 years; average age of squad – 21.3 years)
Chris Couesnon (gk) – age 20
Nick Bernardi – 25
Jackson Courtney-Perkins - 20
Alex Tabillon - 28
Riley Campbell - 25
Jamie Dimitroff – 21
Omar Sidiqi - 19
Brad Stewart - 16
Alex Janovsky - 28
Ben Harris - 21
Josh Hong – 17
Mikhail Murioglu – age 19
Rhys West - 18
Kres Bek - 31
Liam Garnaut - 17
Bertrum Spiers (gk) - 16
Not in the match squad:
Rhys Gwynn-Jones – 20
Declan Smith – 21
Sam Dickinson – 21
Danny Champness – 18
Liam Cosgrove – 20