Jet Sanders comes from a line of extreme athletes, but he's keeping both feet firmly on the ground
The 13-year-old Shoalhaven product was recently selected in the Sydney FC Academy squad, after three beneficial seasons with the Wollongong Wolves.
"I was so excited when I was notified I'd been selected in the Sydney FC Academy squad," Sanders said.
"It was also sad at the same time, as I had to leave some really good mates from my Wolves team.
"But an opportunity like playing with Sydney FC has been a dream of mine and was too good to pass up - I am so grateful."
After starting his career with Illaroo, before stints with Shoalhaven Heads- Berry, Play Essentials, Juventus Academy and IFA, Sanders transitioned into the Wolves program - which ultimately created a pathway for him to higher honours.
"During my three years, the Wolves helped me in so many different aspects of my game, such as my skills, my passing, keeping my head up and looking for the right option, not to mention giving me opportunities to play in different positions," the former Nowra Anglican College student said.
"During this period, the Sydney FC opportunity presented itself when I first attended their weekly Academy Training Program, for kids aged 10 to 13 years.
"I was training at Macquarie Park every Sunday night for close to five weeks when I was asked to train with the youth squad.
"After clearing it with the Wollongong Wolves, I began training with them from the beginning of February 2021.
"Then just last week, my dad received a phone call from Sydney FC asking if I would be interested in coming on board for the 2022 season with their under 14s team - it's been an incredible couple of weeks."
While the centre-midfielder/left-winger is reaping the rewards now, he has been working towards this goal for more than one year.
"This has been my dream since midway through 2020," he said.
"In 2020, we had COVID-19 restrictions for close to nine weeks and I said to myself that I want to be a fitter, stronger and a better all-around player when we get out of lockdown.
"I am consistent and dedicated when I put my mind to doing something.
"I worked out, doing push-ups, sit-ups, running, weights, box jumps and burpees, every morning at 5.45am before training my football skills, such as juggling, speed and shooting, every day.
"I am lucky to have my brothers, Cash and Harley who I get to constantly play and train within our backyard.
"When I came back, my coach noticed that I had improved, not just my ball control and passing but also my athleticism.
"My coach at the time asked what I had been doing and I told them my regime.
"They then gave me the opportunity to train with the age group above, after my training session each night, adding up to about four hours each night.
"The following year I was made captain of my under 13s team."
As part of his training with the Sky Blues, Sanders will travel up to Macquarie Park three times a week, as well as playing games each weekend.
"I really am excited to be at Sydney FC and am hoping to stay in the team as long as possible," he said.
"I want to learn as much as I can from the coaches and teammates while focusing on my gameplay.
"To prepare for it, I have been working on my shooting with both feet from different angles and different positions on the field.
"I have been working on my dribbling, passing and speed.
"I am strong at assisting goals, forcing two on ones and creating space, and play on the field, so I want to keep working on that.
"As such, my main goals would be to score and assist more goals this season."
Without looking too far ahead, Sanders, who now attends Edmund Rice College, hopes this can be the next step to him achieving his dream of playing football professionally in the future.
"The Sydney FC name is known internationally and would be recognised as one of the best teams in Australia," he said.
"All I want to do is play football professionally.
"I live and breathe for this game and can't go a day without playing or at least kicking a ball - it's all I think about.
"Being on this team will hopefully open doors in the way of overseas selection eventually."
You can follow Sanders' football journey via his instagram here.
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