Newcastle Jets’ increasingly impressive collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base at Williamtown grew on Tuesday with two Club Captains getting airborne as passengers in F/A-18 Hornets as part of confirmation that the Club’s ‘RAAF Match’ will be staged again this Hyundai A-League campaign.
Nigel Boogaard (Hyundai A-League) and Gema Simon (Westfield W-League) each had the extraordinary privilege of flying with two of Australia’s top fighter pilots for a training exercise above Newcastle on Tuesday, as the Club and RAAF Base Williamtown announced that this season’s Round 4 contest against Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium will mark its 2016 RAAF Match.
Newcastle Jets introduced RAAF Match last season against Brisbane Roar, collaborating with the Royal Australian Air Force to ensure that the Club’s Members and supporters were treated to one of the most unique matchday experiences in Hyundai A-League history.
Before last season’s RAAF Match - which was attended by 10,155 football fans - three F/A-18 Hornets flew over the Stadium twice before kick-off. The Jets also donned special RAAF inspired playing kits, provided complimentary tickets to RAAF Base Williamtown military personnel and civilian employees, and entered the field of play through a guard of honour featuring RAAF Base Williamtown staff.
The Club can confirm that all of last season’s RAAF Match elements - plus many new and exciting elements - will be in operation when Mark Jones’ men face Graham Arnold’s Sky Blues on Saturday 29 October.
“It was a truly incredible experience to fly with the RAAF today,” Newcastle Jets skipper Boogaard said after his successful return to the Williamtown tarmac. “Over the past year the Club and RAAF Base Williamtown have really connected, and given the clear links that the organisations have it is great news that RAAF Match will take place again this season.”
“Unfortunately I didn’t play in the inaugural RAAF Match, but the boys still rave about the buzz that the F/A-18 Hornets created when they flew over the Stadium before kick-off, and I know it is a special memory for many of our Members and supporters from last year too.”
“Given Round 4 will be a New South Wales Derby against Sydney FC, hopefully this season’s RAAF Match will draw a top crowd to McDonald Jones Stadium as the Club recognises the incredible contribution that the RAAF makes within the Hunter Valley community,” Boogaard said.
As part of Tuesday’s RAAF Match announcement promising attacking midfielder Devante Clut modelled the Jets’ 2016 RAAF playing kit on Base while Boogaard and Simon were in the air.
This season’s Jets RAAF kit is inspired by the Air Force’s General Purpose Uniform (GPU) - an outfit that provides a unique and easily identifiable Air Force presence to the Australian Defence and civilian community. The GPU is worn for general purposes only and is not intended for camouflage. The blue and grey colours selected for GPU reflect Air Force colours, which are seen in their Service Dress uniforms, their Ensign, and in the airframes and airfields they use every day.
Limited numbers of the Club’s 2016 RAAF kit will be available for purchase from the Club’s retail partner, Everything Football (Kotara), in the lead up to RAAF Match 2016, as well as at RAAF Match (stock permitting).
“I am definitely a fan of this year’s RAAF kit,” Clut explained. “Aside from the unique look it is great to know that we will be playing in a kit that represents so much to so many people living and working in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.”
“I learnt today that RAAF Base Williamtown employs over 3,500 military personnel, civilians and contractors, which means that it makes an incredible financial and personal contribution to the local community.”
“I think all my teammates will be very proud to wear this strip,” Clut concluded.