Mason Hammond has taken a step in the right direction to achieve his dream of having a career in football as he was recently selected for the Football NSW Talent Support Program (TSP).
The midfielder currently plays for the under 13 Western NSW Mariners in the NSW National Premier League 2nd Division and says he had no idea he was being watched for the TSP last year.
"It feels pretty amazing to have been selected for the Talent Support Program. I didn't even know they were looking at me for this at the under 12 state titles last year," he said.
The aim of the TSP is to provide young players with high performance training and practice in an environment likely to see the participants progress through to the A-League and beyond.
Hammond admits he never thought something of this nature would be up for grabs for a country kid but says he looks forward to the TSP to better his skills.
I did not think this would be available to me as I thought they would be looking more at kids from the city, not from a country town like Mudgee.Mason Hammond
"The program will give me extra skills and knowledge about the game to help me be a better footballer.
"Just to have been selected as one of the 32 kids to trial is great."
Mason's parents, Sherry and Josh, say he was selected for a number of reasons and both are eager to see what this means for his football career.
"We are both very proud of Mason and think his being invited to be part of the TSP program and attend the selection trials for the NSW Country team are a great achievement," Josh said.
"We think Mason was selected because of his hard work, his coachability and his sportsmanship.
"The extra high level training will help him improve his game for his weekly club matches and give him a greater exposure to what is required to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
It's nice to see that his hard work, training and commitment are recognized.Josh Fleming
Being a part of the program means Mason is required to travel on a regular basis across the region as well as continue to play in his weekly Mariners matches.
"While we allow Mason to undertake so much travel, it does come at quite a cost," Josh said.
"I have been to Italy twice and to Thailand once with the AC Milan Academy in Sydney and this has given me a passion for football and has made me want to be successful and become a professional footballer," Mason said.
If you would like to support Mason with his football career and assist with the costs involved, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.