HE could have had a lucrative football career, but he traded it for a game he enjoyed more with friends.
Charlestown's Lucas Mackaway started playing water polo with Easts Water Polo Club when he was 12, following in his older brother Jason's footsteps.
He also played rugby league with Central Charlestown.
A year later, in his third football season, Mackaway was invited to play in first division.
Not wanting to expose himself to injuries that could jeopardise his performance in the water, he declined and focused on water polo instead.
Mackaway said he never thought twice about the decision.
He said there was more opportunity to represent at state and national level in water polo and he enjoyed the sport's social aspect.
"I really love going on trips [to competitions] with my friends and we always travel as a team so it's fun," he said.
Now 16, the centre forward has played for the Hunter Hurricanes at state and national level in under-14s, under-16s, under-18s and under-20s divisions. In May, the under-16s team placed second at state championships.
Based on his performance there, Mackaway was selected in the Hunter's Tournament 7.
The honour replaced the Most Valuable Player award, instead recognising the Hunter's seven best players - one in each position.
Mackaway was also picked for the NSW under-16s team to compete in the Country Championships and the Australian Born 98 Youth team, which will battle it out in the Pan Pacific Championships.
Both tournaments will be held in New Zealand next month.
Mackaway and Raymond Terrace's Travis McFadyen are the only Hunter players to represent NSW and Australia in New Zealand.
As he moves up the ranks, Mackaway hopes to one day land a spot on the men's national league team - the highest unpaid rank in Australia.