Manning hockey player wins Hunter Academy of Sport award

Award win: Sam Mudford
Award win: Sam Mudford

MANNING hockey prospect Sam Muford won the Newcastle Mens' Hockey Association award at the Hunter Academy of Sport presentation held at the Great Hall at Newcastle University this week.

This is awarded to the most outstanding member of the hockey talent development squad. There are 64 members of the squad and at 14, Sam is one of the youngest. Fellow Manning players Morgan Coleman, Jaimie Hemmingway, Chloe Northam, Reid Bourke, Blake Chivas, Blake Hudson and Emmerson Weiley are also with the academy.

Sam spreads himself between Taree and Newcastle in his hockey endeavours. He plays locally with Sharks under 15s, 18s and A-grade while he also turned out with West Newcastle under 18s, B-grade and premier league.

He plays in Newcastle on Friday evenings, the Manning on Saturdays before returning to Newcastle on Sunday to complete his commitments.

Chatham Hockey president Stuart Ferguson, whose sons Sam and Ben also alternate between Taree and Newcastle, suggested Sam have a crack at the Newcastle competition.

"It's definitely stronger,'' Sam said although he added the travel does become a bit tiring.

Sam also has to be in Newcastle once a month for commitments and training with the Hunter Academy.

He's also been busy on the representative front this year, playing for NSW in the national championships in Perth last April along with Country under 15s. He also turned out for Manning Valley in the State under 18 and 15 championships, with the under 15s winning the division two title.

He's also in the under 16s All Schools squad and he has now been selected in the top age under 15 boys high performance squad. There will be trials on September 27 at Homebush where the high performance squad will be trimmed from 64 to 32. Those remaining will then be added to the 2015 under 18s squad. Manning players Billy Barlett, Jacob Searle and Sam Ferguson are also in this squad.

Sam initially turned out with Taree West in the Manning senior competition, where he played alongside his dad, Dave. However, he's switched the Sharks this season to get the opportunity to play A-grade.

Sam will line up with Sharks tomorrow evening in the final of the Manning division one men's competition for Sharks against Tigers. He's confident they can win their way through to a grand final showdown against the unbeaten Chatham.

"It should be close but we've beaten them a couple of times this year,'' he reasons.

However, hockey's virtually becoming an all year round sport, as Sam's currently training with the Manning under 15s and 18 side to play in the State indoor championships.

Sam also shows promise as a cricketer but says hockey's number one.