Raymond Murphy has reached a pinnacle of NSW school sports, earning a prestigious New South Wales Combined High Schools Sports Association Blue.
The award is very rare, with Raymond the first Deniliquin student to receive it since former AFL star Leo Barry jnr in 1993.
Sporting Blues are awarded to students who display outstanding sporting ability along with exemplary sportsmanship and leadership qualities.
The 16 year-old received his certificate and medal for his achievement in football.
And he hopes it may open the same doors it did for Barry.
‘‘To win the same award that Leo Barry won when he was my age is just mind-blowing,’’ Raymond said.
‘‘When I found out (he was the last local to win it) I was a bit shell-shocked, but it’s a good feeling.
‘‘I wouldn’t have earned this honour without the support of the Deniliquin Rovers over the years, helping me develop my game from a young age.
‘‘I’d also like to thank Brenda Norman for nominating me for this.’’
Recipients of the prestigious Blue awards must have competed at CHSSA carnivals, and must have done so at an elite level.
During 2019 Raymond was selected in the Deniliquin High School Boys 15 years Australian football and 15 years basketball teams.
He captained the Riverina South West 15 years boys Australian football team to a gold medal at the NSW All Schools trials.
He was selected in the NSW Combined High Schools Merit Team and the NSW All Schools Team.
At the School Sport Australia Championships he was selected in the 22 man All Australian Merit Team for 2019.
This saw Raymond not only earn himself a Riverina Blue, but also claim the prestigious Premier Sporting Challenge Award in 2019.
His efforts on the footy field also saw him named Junior Sportsperson of the Year at the Edward River Council Australia Day awards in January.
The teen was also invited to train with and play for the GWS Giants academy side at Canberra in February this year.
During his time there, the onballer was put through skill, fitness and agility testing, as well as being put through his paces with game play drills and a scratch match.
The weekend of footy was to be used as trials for the Under 16s NSW/ACT Rams team that competes at the NAB AFL Under 16s Championships, however the squad was never finalised due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
‘‘The Giants program was cut short unfortunately, so I guess I’ll just look towards next year,’’ Raymond said.
‘‘I had an osteitis pubis injury in my groin but was able to get it right during the shutdown.
‘‘I’ve been back at the footy club and in the gym recently, and am staying as fit as I can.
‘‘Hopefully the Picola League will be able to hold its junior comps so I can play in the thirds.
'‘The next goal after that would be trying to either get in the Giants Academy or trying to get on the Bendigo Pioneers list in the NAB League.
‘‘The ultimate goal is to reach the AFL but I’m just going to try and keep playing the best footy I possibly can.’’
Raymond’s citation for his NSWCHSSA Blue award win described him as ‘‘a mature young man who stands above his peers in terms of sporting ability leadership qualities and resilience’’.
‘‘He is an outstanding young footballer that others look to follow both on and off the field,’’ the citation read.
‘‘His ability to gather a group for a common goal is admirable and he has earned excellent results this year in his chosen sport.
‘‘At all times Raymond demonstrates focus and determination as well a clear sense of teamwork and fair play.
‘‘He is a strong leader of young people and is a worthy recipient of a New South Wales Combined High Schools Sports Association Blue in the sport of Australian football.’’