NPL NNSW competition to expand with Cooks Hill United to join league in 2022

Northern NSW Football is delighted to announce the expansion of its top tier men’s competition, with Cooks Hill United to be included in the National Premier Leagues Northern NSW competition for season 2022.

Cooks Hill United exceeded the requirements of a review conducted under the Club Development Rating System where 11 key criteria of the club’s off-field performance were measured. These included youth development, coaching, governance, organisational structure, facilities and finance.

NPL NNSW and HIT106.9 Northern League One clubs were consulted regarding the review requirements.

Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland congratulated Cooks Hill United on their inclusion in the NPL NNSW competition.

“NNSWF implemented the agreed process adopted by the board following the last application process in 2019 and Cooks Hill United have worked hard over a number of years to build themselves up to the required standard to compete in the NPL NNSW competition,” Eland said.

“This is well deserved. We congratulate Cooks Hill United on their inclusion. I’m sure they will be a success.”

Formed in December 1997, it has been a rapid rise for the inner-city club.

Cooks Hill United were promoted to what is now the HIT106.9 Northern League One competition in 2015. The club won three premierships in a row in 2017, ’18 and ’19 as well as winning the 2017 grand final.

Cooks Hill United president Matt Helinski said the club were delighted with their inclusion.

“This is really the culmination of a lot of hard work done by a lot of really good volunteers, coaches and players especially over the last five years,” Helinski said.

“I hope those people celebrate this as much as the current committee and players will. They’ve all made a huge contribution and helped make the club what it is today.

“We’ve obviously worked very hard at this. We’re very happy and excited about next year. It’s a satisfying feeling knowing that, in accordance with NNSWF’s Club Development Rating System, we’re now up there with the NPL clubs.

“We were disappointed when we got knocked back with our application [in 2019]. On the park we’d been incredibly successful so it was a real shock. But we did a lot of soul searching and realised that our strength was in our youth and development of these players was where our real interest was.

“We set about developing a great youth development program and developing great coaches to implement it. This aligned with everything Northern [NSW Football] were asking for so when it came around to the Club Development Rating System we naturally scored well.

“We saw it as an opportunity more than anything to improve the club as well as the long-term goal to earn promotion.

“NNSWF didn’t want to promote a club to linger at the bottom, both on and off the park. In terms of our application we didn’t have to be as good as the lower teams in that division but we had to be up there with the best. NNSWF’s confirmation of this is really satisfying.”

Cooks Hill United lead the HIT106.9 Northern League One competition after 17 rounds, with Helinski pointing not only to Cooks Hill’s recent success on the pitch but the club’s sense of community off it.

“We’ve produced a lot of really good players and many have left the club to play against the best opposition at NPL clubs. So for those players that have left to seek out an opportunity elsewhere the message is we’re here now and we’d love to have you back,” Helinski said.

“I think a real strength of the club is that we have that connection with the community. We have big numbers, more than 1000 members, 92 coaches. That creates a lot of work but at the same time brings a lot of good local people to your club who are enthusiastic to get involved.

“Then those people are able to connect with others from the community through the football club. It creates a nice community around the club. The main driver behind our ambition to move up to NPL was to retain a lot of good enthusiastic players and parents and give them an opportunity to represent their home club against the best players.”

The NPL NNSW competition will return to an 11-team league for the first time since 2019 next season. The HIT106.9 Northern League One competition will feature 10 teams.

Northern NSW Football offers its congratulations to Cooks Hill United and wishes the club all the best for the future.