PROMISING Jets defender Ben van Dorssen was given the nod to skip a gym session this week. He had an assessment task due at school. Van Dorrsen is the latest academy product to be given a taste of the A-League. The 17-year-old Lambton High student played the final 10 minutes at right back in the Jets' 1-all draw with Melboune City in a friendly in Tamworth on Saturday. "I have played a few internal games but that was my first minutes against an A-League side," van Dorssen said. "It was a great experience. The boss briefed us before the game and let us know there would be a bit of rotation. It was one-all and we were under the pump late in the match. It was good to know that the boss had the confidence to put me on at that stage of the game." A centreback by trade, van Dorssen slotted in at right fullback. On Monday, he was back at school as the rest of the squad had a day off. Tuesday was a field session in Maitland in the morning and school work in the afternoon. "The school is happy to support me with my football," van Dorssen said. "It goes both ways. The boss is understanding when I have exams and things like that. I go to school once or twice a week. It is similar to online learning during COVID. I get assigned work and I do it in the afternoons. "I still want to do well at school and plan to go to uni. It depends how football goes. If all goes well, it's my dream to be a footballer. "A few of the boys study at uni as well as be a full-time professional. There are so many pathways available." READ MORE: After captaining the Jets' youth team to a NSW NPL 4 premiership double, van Dorssen was invited to train full-time with the senior squad in the preseason. "I had a decent season with the youth team and they asked me to come in at the start of preseason to develop in the senior environment," said van Dorssen, a Lambton Jaffas junior before joining the Emerging Jets in under-9s. "I was at the point where i was ready for that and needed it. "It took a month or two to adapt to the speed of play. The tempo increases, the physicality ... everything goes up a few notches. "After a while you start to gel on and off the pitch. You get more confident and comfortable on the ball. "I think I have definitely developed in that environment. Whether I am ready for an A-League debut is up to the boss. I feel confident at training. Hopefully I get the nod soon enough." Dorssen attended an Australian under-20s camp in August and was a standby player for a Asian under-20s qualifiers, despite not turning 18 until May. Coach Arthur Papas has been happy with the defender's progress. "He is someone who has made a big rise in the last six months," Papas said. "He still has a lot of work to do but he has a good attitude. He is one of the local players who we think can progress over time." Asked what stood out about van Dorssen, Papas said: "He is pretty mature and very serious about his football. He handles himself very well in the senior environment. Physically, he can compete with the boys which is important. That is the big gap we have been finding. For the most part, he can handle that. We want to give him the time to develop the tools he will need to play at a professional level. There is definitely something there." MORE IN SPORT: WHAT DO YOU THINK? We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Newcastle Herald website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.