With an eye on the future Newcastle Jets has recently made a number of moves to ensure that some of the best young players in the country are part of the Club’s increasingly progressive football pathway.
Attacker Mark Moric has joined the Jets on a two-season scholarship contract, while striker Harrison Sawyer has also linked with the Club on a scholarship deal through to the completion of the current Hyundai A-League campaign.
Meanwhile, former Emerging Jet Antonee Burke has signed a scholarship contract with the Club through to the end of the 2017/18 season, as has former Brisbane Roar Youth League man Joe Champness.
While Moric and Sawyer will remain with the Club in Australia training with the first team squad, Burke and Champness have become the first beneficiaries of the Jets’ ties to the Portuguese second division, known as the Ledman LigaPro.
The Club’s ownership, Ledman Group, have the option to send up to ten players per year to professional Clubs in the Portuguese second tier to enhance their development and provide them with a rich footballing experience.
Last Saturday Burke and Champness jetted to Europe with Jets Chief Executive Officer Lawrie McKinna to link with Académica de Coimbra, one of the biggest clubs in the Ledman LigaPro, until mid-2017.
While in the city of Coimbra, the fourth biggest city in Portugal, Burke and Champness will train and play with Académica’s reserve team.
The Jets will receive regular reports on the development and progress of the duo while they are playing for the Club that as recently as 2012 featured in the UEFA Europa League Group Stage.
Moric, 16, is an Australian youth international who until recently was a member of Football Federation Australia’s Centre of Excellence based in Canberra. Moric comes from a family steeped in football tradition - his father Ante was a Socceroo. Like his father, Moric progressed through the famed Sydney United 58 pathway.
Sawyer, 20, has already made two appearances from the bench in the Hyundai A-League since linking with the Club from Brisbane Roar Youth. A tall and powerfully built striker, Sawyer netted a hat-trick for the Club’s youth team in his first match for the Club against Sydney FC Youth, prompting Jets Head Coach Mark Jones to give him opportunities with the Club’s first team matchday squad.
Burke, 19, is an Emerging Jets graduate who has played with the Club in both the FOXTEL National Youth League and PS4 National Premier Leagues (Northern NSW). A crafty midfielder, Burke has already featured for the Jets’ first team squad in some friendly fixtures.
Champness, 19, has linked with the Jets after being involved with Brisbane Roar’s Youth set-up. Champness transitioned to Roar Youth from PS4 NPL Queensland side Moreton Bay United FC, and now finds himself with the opportunity to develop with the men from the Estádio Cidade de Coimbra. In 2016 Champness played for the Young Socceroos at the AFC U19 Championship held in Bahrain.