JET SETTER: Clarence junior to join A-League side
FOOTBALL: The Clarence Valley is no easy place to be recognised as a footballer but former Maclean Bobcats product Charlie Kelly has made a monumental move in his development after signing a deal with the Newcastle Jets Academy.
Kelly has forged his way to the A-League side after impressing with regional side North Coast Football, which has youth teams in the Northern NSW NPL Youth leagues.
Charlie's father, Mark, praised his son's commitment to becoming a professional footballer from a young age.
"He's in his fourth year with the North Coast Football side now and he's been training in Coffs Harbour three times a week,” Mark said.
"We'll get up at 3.30am to put him on a bus and then we pick him back up at 11.30pm. We, as a family, have committed a lot to this but it's great that it's paying off.”
Charlie played up a year with the North Coast under-16s this year and after a good word from former North Coast Football technical director Gary Phillips, the Jets invited the junior to train with them.
"Gary put forward to Newcastle that Charlie is an exceptional talent and asked him to join their training once a week,” Mark said.
"Most of this year he was in Coffs Harbour twice a week and Newcastle on Fridays.
"They liked what they saw so they asked him to join the academy so he'll move down there at the start of next year and play and train for Newcastle at least five time a week.
"It's difficult but it helps you realise that breaking into an A-League academy can be done even though we're out of reach.”
Charlie's mother, Lisa, said they were "very excited for him as he's put in so much time and effort” and that she was "nervous sending him away but he'll be just fine”.