Jets CEO shares 2021 wishlist after club’s positive recovery
BUOYED by some positive club developments, Richard Hughes hopes to put the laptop away and enjoy a short Christmas break.
After what he describes as “a crazy year’’ due to COVID, the Ipswich Jets CEO deserves that opportunity, along with other key sports decision-makers in the city.
Although the Jets were unable to complete an Intrust Super Cup state competition, the club’s growing netball franchise continued to achieve pleasing success.
A year after the Jets Rubies made the grand final in their inaugural second tier Netball Queensland competition season, the Ipswich club’s top grade Sapphires achieved the same feat this season.
The Jets Sapphires also won a historic premiership as competition leaders after the qualifying matches.
Although neither University of Southern Queensland-backed team won a season decider, their incredible progress augurs well for the future.
Their efforts were acknowledged at the recent Jets club event where netball and rugby league awards were presented.
Bridey Condron (Most Valuable Player) and Brooke Hams (Club Person of the Year) were among the major award winners.
Hughes was impressed how the Jets netballers responded after being given a short time to prepare for a delayed season due to COVID.
“It was fantastic,’’ Hughes said. “The girls gathered themselves pretty quickly and all came together and did exceptionally well.’’
Hughes, who took over as Jets CEO early last year, praised the netballers for their valuable contribution to the club and community.
“More than anything, they showed themselves as good ambassadors, good athletes, so they are fantastic for the Jets and they really put themselves into the mould of the Jets family really very quickly.’’
With the netball season complete, the Jets focus returns to rugby league.
Jets teams from under-16 to state league level are being prepared for next year with coaches already well advanced in pre-season preparations.
“All the boys are back in training now,’’ Hughes said.
“We’ve got a fair few of the guys already contracted for next year.’’
An important development is the Jets fielding a second senior side in next year’s Rugby League Ipswich competition.
“We’ve always wished for that to give us some additional troops and also to contribute back to the local league,’’ Hughes said.
“This achieves both those things, which is great.’’
The Jets CEO backed head coach Keiron Lander’s push to bring in outside county-based players.
“The point is we’re not trying to take people out of the local league,’’ Hughes said.
“In fact, quite the opposite. We want to bring people in - people that Keiron brings in - just give some opportunities to work their trade . . . and it’s a great opportunity to play Cup level.
“It’s very exciting.’’
Hughes said having netball flourish in a tough year for rugby league was satisfying.
“As a club, both on the football and netball sides, we are ending the year strongly ready for what will hopefully be a good 2021,’’ he said.
“We were lucky. We’ve got a good core of sponsors and fans with stuff we did this year.
“It’s been tough but I guess it’s the kind of opportunity to really show who we are as a Jets family, as opposed to just on the field.
“Everybody has come together.
“In what’s been a crazy year this year, we’ve still been able to come out the other side.’’
That’s why Hughes has clearcut goals at the top of his 2021 wishlist.
“From an on field, on core perspective, it’s very much about consolidating,’’ he said.
“Giving the boys some good football . . . and for the girls, it’s to continue that success that they had this year and try and go one step beyond this year.
“Off field, it’s all about consolidating 2020 and making sure that we are strong for next year and maintain that.’’
Savige Pest Control Ipswich Jets ward winners
Danny Coburn Club Person of the Year 2020: Blake Lenehan
Keiron Lander Community Person of the Year 2020: Mark Bishop
Jaydon Adams Memorial Foundation Special Award 2020: Keiron Lander.
University of Southern Queensland Jets Netball Sapphire Team award winners
Best Defence: Bridey Condren
Best Centre Court: Stephanie O’Brien
Best Shooter: Charlie Bell
Players Player: Charlie Bell
Most Valuable Player: Bridey Condren
Spirit Club Person of the Year Award: Brooke Hams.
University of Southern Queensland Jets Netball Ruby Team Award winners
Best Defence: Kaitlin Pollock
Best Centre Court: Renae Pollock
Best Shooter: Naomi Solomona
Players Player: Emalee Sammons
Most Valuable Player: Kaitlin Pollock.