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A talented Co Tyrone teenager has been tipped for big things in the hockey world after picking up a prestigious award at an international tournament in Malaysia.
18-year-old Max Anderson from Cookstownwas in the Asian country representing Great Britain Under 21s at the Sultan of Johor Cup, and won the ‘Most Promising Player’ award.
Former Cookstown High School student Max has also just started a Finance degree at university in Nottingham, but his eyes are firmly set on making it to the Olympics one day.
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At last month’s tournament in Malaysia, he was one of the youngest players on show and managed to catch the eye with a number of stellar performances.
“This was my first time being selected for the squad and it was an incredible experience to play against countries like Australia and India,” Max told Belfast Live.
“It was so hot out there and it was difficult to get used to but it was just an incredible experience.
“I ended up coming away with the award for Most Promising Player award at the tournament.
“There was a big presentation at the end of the tournament, and I was barely even listening to it until they called my name out.
“I was really shocked. I was the second youngest in the squad and we are really looking to the future, I was one of the youngest at the tournament overall.”
While he admits that the Paris 2024 Olympics may come a little too soon for him, he is clear that’s where he aims to be one day.
“For me, the target that I’ve always set myself is the Olympics. 2024 is getting very soon so I’m not sure that’s doable but I’ll always aim for that.
“But whatever games it is the Olympics will always be my goal. I’m on the right path but I just need to keep working hard and keep my head down.”
Growing up in a town well-known for hockey excellence has helped him become the player he is today, Max added.
“Neither of my parents ever played hockey, my siblings did and I just wanted to be like them so I asked my mum if could I go along. I started at P1 and since then I just absolutely loved it.
“Cookstown is a well-renowned hockey town and it helps a lot because everyone in the community is so keen and eager to play.
“The hockey community in Cookstown is like its own wee family, everyone wants to see each other do well and everyone just encourages each other so much.
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“Because it’s such a small wee town there’s such an opportunity to develop and succeed and you’re given them opportunities
“I got called up to train with the first team in Cookstown when I was 12 or 13 and that age that was great development for me.”
Max has recently been one recipient of a £5000 bursary programme from the Mary Peters Trust and Hughes Insurance to help encourage sporting talent in Northern Ireland.
Lady Mary Peters said: “Max is a fantastic example to the young sporting community, with many achievements under his belt during his sporting career, including captaining the Ireland U16 team in a match against England.
“His wins are a testament to his hard work and perseverance, and it is hoped that his bursary will help him to continue to realise his sporting potential.”
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