Jets bid needs association help
THE kids room at the Ipswich Jets Leagues Club is lined by video games and amusements, but they were all turned off at lunchtime yesterday.
What was taking place behind the closed doors wasn’t child’s play.
At a table in the middle of the room sat Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, State Member for West Ipswich Wayne Wendt, Ipswich City Councillor David Morrison, former Queensland cricketer John Bell, Ipswich Jets Cricket Club secretary/treasurer Arthur Needham, Jets CEO Brad Wolens, Jets Leagues Club general manager Justin Hall and operations manager Paul Devin.
They were there to discuss the Jets ambitions to merge with local sporting clubs in need of help and to work out how to get a cricket team into the Queensland Premier Grade (QPG) competition.
The Jets maintain they have covered every base to prove they are ready to enter an Ipswich team into the QPG competition as soon as they get the green light.
The one thing missing is council support.
While the Jets work independently of the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association (IWMCA) council will not officially back their bid.
“That’s for governing bodies (to submit bids for entry into state competitions) and we will support the governing bodies,” Morrison said.
“Will you support us?” Needham asked Morrison.
“Does the QCA see you as a rebel organisation?” Morrison responded.
Needham and Bell don’t see being a “rebel” organisation as a hindrance, given the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast clubs were granted admittance to the QPG competition, despite not being aligned to their regional associations.
However Morrison wouldn’t budge on principal, though Needham maintained progress was being made.
“All parties are agreed there is a pathway going forward,” he said.
“We have agreed a plan of action and will move forward.”
The Jets have already fired off a letter to the QCA outlining the strengths of their argument for inclusion.
A response is eagerly awaited.
The IWMCA has been told it will be among the next teams admitted into the competition and is happy to wait.
They were given a two to three year time frame, but that hasn’t changed over the past 18 months.
Needham and Bell feel if the issue isn’t pressed, it will remain “two to three years” indefinitely.
They have tried unsuccessfully before to get a bid up, but since then have aligned themselves with the Jets and established the Ipswich Jets warehouse cricket club, which fields four teams in the current winter season.
“There is far more on the table then there was 18 months ago,” Wolens said, referring to the current proposal.
“There might be a backlash with the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association but we’re in a better position now.
“Now is the time to go ahead and have the meeting (with the QCA), if council support you.”
And if not?
“Then get David and council’s support,” Wolens said.
Again, it came back to the need to get the IWMCA onside.
Bell holds hopes the Jets cricket team’s home ground at the University of Queensland Ipswich campus will one day match the facilities at its St Lucia campus.
The idea had cold water poured onto it however, so long as the Jets work independently of the IWMCA.
“You’re not going to get federal ministers to come and give money until you get this sorted out,” Neumann said.
“The government has provided money for the North Ipswich Reserve, the George Alder Tennis Centre and the Ipswich Basketball Stadium because they’ve got established organisations.”
While Needham and Bell view the IWMCA as pursuing a different agenda to their own, there may be a glimmer of hope.
IWMCA president Peter Leschke maintains the door is open for the IWMCA and the Jets to work together to lobby the QCA for admittance within the “two to three years” time frame.
What was also up for discussion at the meeting, and supported unanimously, was the Jets expansion to take other sporting clubs under their wing, using the Jets as their clubhouse and administrative base.
They are currently in talks with an Ipswich hockey club and Ipswich netball club, both of whom are experiencing some financial or administrative difficulties.
“We have systems in place for rugby league and are giving opportunities to show that with other sporting bodies,” Hall said.
“A lot of sporting clubs don’t have that professional access.
“The biggest problem for many of them is getting funding to keep up with equipment and corporate governance.
“We’re happy to provide assistance and are not looking to run clubs.”
Ipswich Jets are ready to enter a cricket club into the Queensland Premier Grade competition with federal and state politicians offering conditional support.
Ipswich City Council will not back the bid without the Ipswich West Moreton Cricket Association’s involvement.
The Ipswich Jets are open to sporting clubs in Ipswich joining them under the Jets banner in exchange for administrative assistance.