Senior Newcastle Jets players together with the club’s coaching staff received the unique opportunity to tour Williamtown RAAF base on Thursday as part of the start of an ongoing strategic alliance between the organisations.
Jets Nigel Boogaard, Daniel Mullen, David Carney, Mateo Poljak and Labinot Haliti, together with Scott Miller, Jean-Paul de Marigny, Jess Vanstrattan, Justin Dougherty (physio) and Brent Anderson (equipment and logistics) were privy to a three-hour base visit ordinarily off limits.
As part of the visit the group received a leadership discussion from highly experienced Air Commodore Steve “Zed” Roberton, and got to take a seat in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet --- the same type of jet that adorns the club’s crest.
After a series of photo opportunities, the players were given the truly exclusive opportunity to take a turn in the flight simulator used day and night to train some of Australia’s top Air Force pilots for duty.
First up it was Carney up against Haliti, then Mullen against Poljak. Last but not least, Boogaard aimed to shoot long-serving club kit man Anderson out of the sky.
Newcastle Jets boss Miller said that the club was appreciative of the opportunity to go on base, learn, and strengthen ties with the RAAF Williamtown.
“I think it’s hugely important that we link the two (Newcastle Jets and RAAF Williamtown),” Miller said. “Our respect for the jobs they do is massive, so I’m looking forward to linking up more throughout the year.”
“I was here about three of four months ago to meet the Air Commander and the respect I had for him immediately and their role in the community is massive. Ultimately we win and lose and that’s our focus but ultimately their (RAAF personnel) position in the community is huge and the players respect that.”
“Communication and leadership is massive, that’s the reason we’re here today and that’s something I took away from my first meeting with the Air Commander --- it’s not just one leader it’s a team.”
Air Commodore Roberton said that the relationship between the Jets and RAAF Williamtown could be a fruitful one.
"It was great to have the opportunity to have the Jets leadership team and officials come out and see what we do here on the base,” Roberton said. “We can really learn a lot from each other through this affiliation and learning more about how each of us operates really sets the foundation for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.”
“We use a lot of sports metaphors to explain military leadership and the Air Force leadership model works well for sporting teams such as the Jets as it takes a whole team approach to get our jets flying, which is the same philosophy required to score in football,” he said.