Multi-talented Paul Braithwaite is a bit special

Hartlepool Sports Awrds, held at Hornby Park, Seaton Carew. Sports personality of the year winner Paul Braithwaite.
Hartlepool Sports Awrds, held at Hornby Park, Seaton Carew. Sports personality of the year winner Paul Braithwaite.

TO BE good at one sport is something to be proud of.

But to be multi-talented is a little bit special.

Teenager Paul Braithwaite sits in the second category and his gifts were recognised this week by winning the Hartlepool Sports Personality of the Year award.

Some of the great names in the town’s great history have won the main prize at the Hartlepool Sports Council’s annual awards.

Amanda Coulson, Michael Hunter, Paul Jennings, Lindsay Johnson, Jemma Lowe, Savannah Marshall, Graeme Storm and Andrew Taylor are just eight athletes who have competed and won at the very highest level of their sports.

Braithwaite, who is not 18 until December, is just setting out on his sporting life.

But what a sporting life it could be.

The Hartlepool Sixth Form College student played a key role in the unbeaten run of the England U18 Schools football team this season, a side he captained twice.

Braithwaite, released by Hartlepool United Academy at the age of 16, has signed for Crook Town and hopes for further international youth chances.

But it is his summer sporting love which he hopes will give him a chance of becoming a professional sportsman.

The former High Tunstall College of Science pupil is one of the region’s brightest cricket prospects.

Braithwaite was one of the inspirations behind Seaton Carew’s promotion charge to the NYSD Premier League last year, starring with both bat and ball.

And he was also a leading figure in the Durham side who won the County U17 Championship last year.

“I love both cricket and football,” he told SportMail.

“But I think the cricket is a bit more favourable for me, since I was released by Pools.

“The football has gone well with getting to play for England and I’m looking forward to playing in the Northern League next season.

“I think the cricket has been pretty good for me over the last year and it is something I may be have a chance at making a living at.

“I’ve played for the Under 17 team which went very well and now I’m getting to play in the Durham Academy side.

“It’s a great opportunity to play at a good level.

“The good lads from Academy can progress from here to the Second team and then the First XI.”

That is the team which bridges the gap between the youth system and the Second XI.

And he got the chance on Saturday to watch and learn from one of England’s top cricketers – Ben Stokes.

The all-rounder was on the comeback trail after two months out following breaking his wrist after punching a dressing room locker in a Twenty20 international in the West Indies in mid-March.

And Stokes and Braithwaite were on the same scorecard in the North-East Premier League game at Blaydon.

“It was unbelievable to get to play in the same team as Ben,” said Paul who lives on Elwick Rise with mum, dad and brother, David, a team-mate in the Seaton side.

“Ben was a good lad but it was a case of watching and learning.

“He has great raw talent but he’s worked hard for what he’s done with Durham and England.

“His attitude is top class and he goes about everything the right way, on and off the pitch.

“He was top class.”

Braithwaite has shown plenty of class himself already and over the summer months he’ll be looking to produce the goods for Seaton and Durham.