Newcastle Jets commenced phase one of pre-season training at Ray Watt Oval at the University of Newcastle on Monday, with three new players joining the group for the first time.Rookie duo Themba Muata-Marlow and Andy Brennan linked with their new teammates for the first hit-out ahead of Hyundai A-League season 11, however while the young duo have opted to move to Newcastle for professional opportunities, for another fresh Jet the day represented a homecoming some ten years in the making.
Experienced defender Nigel Boogaard, who has been part of the Hyundai A-League since its inception, was among the first players to arrive at the training ground as 11 of the squad’s 14 contracted players reported for duty.
Boogaard declared that during his tenures with Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, he had always thought about one day signing on with hometown Hyundai A-League side.
“To be honest with you I always wanted to come back and play for my hometown club,” Boogaard said. “I spent all of my junior years playing with the Breakers, originally, and then Newcastle United.”
“I didn’t know if I would ever get the opportunity [to play for Newcastle], so it’s exciting to play for this community.”
“Obviously I grew up here and all my junior football was here, so I know what this community has to offer and what they want out of a football team and what they want to follow.”
Monday’s session consisted of a possession-based game, followed by passing drills, and approximately 20 minutes of running to get the blood pumping. The boys then hit the gym at The Forum to work on their strength.
Boogaard said the session was a great start, and that he could already see potential in the many young players in the squad.
“It was a good session,” he said. “I think the boys are keen to get back to kicking a ball.”
“We love playing football, and to get out there after weeks off, it’s exciting.”
“There is some talent already here, that’s clear to see.”
“There are some older guys with some experience, and there are some younger boys with some big futures, so hopefully we can add a few names to that, get the blend right, and hopefully we can be quite competitive this year.”
Fans can click here to find out more about Wednesday’s Community Forum.