You would be hard pressed to find a football person in the Hunter who doesn't think our best juniors should be competing regularly against the state's elite in Sydney.
But without intervention from FFA, it appears unlikely to happen anytime soon.
The Newcastle Jets Youth team and underpinning sides have been competing against clubs in the Northern NSW state league/NPL since 2012. Younger teams play a year or two up in the NPL Youth.
Their female counterparts, though, have been in Sydney's NSW NPL Women's competition since 2015.
NNSW Football and the Jets have lobbied Football NSW for the boys to follow suit and join Central Coast, Western Sydney and Sydney FC with youth teams in the metropolitan league.
However, the addition of the Jets would invariably mean another club missing out. Politics and restructures - the NSW NPL men's will expand to include a fourth division in 2020 - have left Newcastle out of the equation.
Jets chief and youth coach Lawrie McKinna discussed a potential move with Football NSW last year. McKinna would welcome a spot in NPL 2, where Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers academies compete, but he said "nothing had changed".
"We spoke about it the year before, but we would need to come in too far down the leagues," McKinna said.
"It wasn't even offered, it was just spoken about, that we maybe would have to come in at the fourth division and work our way up. By the time you do that, you might lose four or five years development so it's maybe too big a hike."
The short-term pain, though, could be worth it given the long-term gain.
Sydney's NPL Youth 1 and 2 leagues are packed with 26 and 18 teams respectively. In the NNSW NPL, the Jets sides play a year up in under 13, 14, 15 and 16 groups, and two years higher in the under 18s and 20s, in an attempt to improve competition.
It has brought mixed results and arguably poor returns in player development when compared to eras before the A-League when the Hunter's best prospects had weekly competition outside the region instead of now playing local clubs and in an eight-game summer NYL.
This year, the Jets under 12s have won 14 of 15 games in NPL under-13s, scoring 117 goals and conceding 13. The under 15s have scored 89 goals and let in 20 in the under 16s. They recently beat Charlestown 22-0.
"We play a year up now, it's competitive, but some of the games blow out," McKinna said. "When you look at the girls program, we get double the amount in the national teams identification process than we have with the boys and you can attribute that maybe to the girls playing in Sydney."