Inclusive Jets keep progressing with state league first
AN INCLUSIVE season launch, professional partnership approach and massive defence force support day.
Ipswich Jets players, coaches and officials are in overdrive this week gearing up for Saturday's round one Intrust Super Cup clash against the Townsville Blackhawks at the North Ipswich Reserve.
The season opener doubles as the TAE Aerospace Defence Force Appreciation Day, a partnership the Jets have supported for a number of years.
A huge program of games is planned on Saturday afternoon, just days after the Jets' innovative season launch at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre.
Ipswich's state league rugby league and netball teams united as one on the night, highlighting the club's expanding professional status.
For Jets CEO Richard Hughes, the hectic introduction to a new rugby league season and fast approaching netball competitions typifies the club's "don't stand still'' approach.
In his third year at the club, Hughes was delighted to see the two Jets netball teams included with all the football sides at last Thursday night's season launch attended by more than 250 guests.
"It's good as we evolve now and having netball as part of our overall program,'' Hughes said.
"It's something that I guess is the next stage.
"We had a presentation night last year (where the Jets netball teams were included for the first time) and then the launch this year.
"That's a good progression and how we've evolved as a club - inclusive for everybody.''
The Jets are believed to be the first sporting organisation in Queensland to have two state league sports under the one banner.
Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher and Intrust Super Cup CEO Brendan O'Farrell were among the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre guests at the launch.
Hughes said Hatcher shared a positive message with his board about what the Jets were doing creating a benchmark in sport.
The direct benefit for the Ipswich region was having the rugby league and netball players, coaches and officials introduced and made welcome on the same night.
"It's always good to meet the players and the people behind the players,'' Hughes said.
"It's definitely one of the rare opportunities to see the players outside of running onto the field or court.
"But also, it's good for our sponsors and partners to get together in one room . . . to get a wider appreciation of what the club is doing.
"It's not just what's happening on field or on court, there's a lot more what the club is about.
"We certainly are a club now that leads the way and we don't follow everyone else . . . and we're happy to do that.''
As the Intrust Super Cup rugby league season kicks off this weekend, the Jets netballers are continuing their preparations for the 2021 Netball Queensland series starting next month.
The Jets Sapphire Series side won a historic minor premiership in only their second year before losing last year's grand final in a tough battle.
The Jets second tier Ruby competition side made the grand final in their inaugural season before featuring prominently again last year.
Hughes said the Jets were looking to keep pace with major developments including the proposed North Ipswich Reserve redevelopment and possible benefits from the 2032 Olympics.
"There's a lot going on over the next 10 years so consolidating our quality and focus in rugby league as well as continuing to evolve that netball,'' he said.
"The netball is still in its infancy as far as a league goes from Netball Queensland. So it's really watching how that grows and we can grow with it as well.''
The CEO said Saturday's Defence Force appreciation day was another major event.
The first game at 1.30pm features the newly-formed Jets A-Grade side playing with Rosewood in this year's Rugby League Ipswich competition. The Jets will play a trial against a Defence Force combination.
At 3.30pm, the Jets Cyril Connell under 16 side will play, leading up to the 5.30pm Intrust Super Cup clash against Townsville.
At 7pm, the Jets Mal Meninga Cup outfit will take centre stage at the North Ipswich Reserve.
"It's going to be a fantastic day . . . and it's always kind of our biggest day of the year,'' Hughes said.
Free Kayo live streaming of Qld Cup matches
In another major boost for rugby league fans, Kayo is livestreaming regular Intrust Super Cup games for free starting this weekend.
The first Ipswich Jets match being live streamed on Kayo is against the Sunshine Coast Falcons in round three.
Other games will be showcased from this weekend starting with the PNG Hunters and Wynnum (Saturday) and Souths Logan v Burleigh (Sunday).
Look for the games under the Kabo Freebies app or visit kayosports.com.au/freebies.