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Prince Harry bids to bowl over youngsters at home of cricket

Published 07/10/2016

Prince Harry in action at Lord's Cricket Club
Prince Harry in action at Lord's Cricket Club

Prince Harry tried his best to bowl over spectators with his cricketing ability after joining young sports coaches on the field at Lord's.

The royal, dressed in smart attire, rolled up his sleeve for a catching drill as he stepped on to the field of play with youngsters from a coaching apprenticeship programme.

Pausing for breath after several catches, he expressed joking alarm after he was told that he was only half way through the practice.

Harry had been visiting the historic sporting ground to mark the expansion of Coach Core, a sporting initiative of which he is a patron.

It is geared towards enhancing opportunities for disadvantaged young people aged 16 to 24 - training them as sports coaches with a "holistic" approach, aimed at bolstering their employability and leadership skills.

Dozens from the programme gathered in the shadow of the main field of play at Lord's to show the royal their skills.

They were also joined by double Olympic gold medallist Max Whitlock, who is a sporting ambassador of Coach Core.

But it was not just bowling drills on show for Harry at the so-called home of cricket - football and netball-style exercises were also on display.

Harry then showed off some fancy footwork when he joined a football kick around, high-fiving and light-heartedly poking fun at the other players.

The initiative currently works alongside 42 partners, including Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns Lord's, and West Ham United - with 98% of its graduates now having entered full time employment.

It is hoped that by spring next year they will collaborate with 100 partners in total.

Harry next showed off some impressive catching skills after being on the receiving end of flying netballs and tennis balls.

Also in attendance at the event were former Olympic rower Mark Hunter, England netball player Eboni Beckford-Chambers and former England cricket star Graeme Swann.

Britain's most decorated Olympic gymnast Whitlock, 23, had to be called over by the group when he walked away before they had finished posing for photos.

Harry yelled: "When you're ready, Max - you don't win the gold medal in timing, obviously."

After cooling off from his exercise, the Prince spoke to a room of Coach Core apprentices.

He said: "It's great to be here to celebrate the national roll-out of Coach Core and I can't quite believe that it was four years ago that my brother, Catherine and I launched it."

He added: "We must harness the increasing interest from sports clubs and organisations, regional and national governing bodies and like-minded sports charities so that we can make it possible for young people everywhere to take part in Coach Core.

"By training the next generation of coaches to put the child first and the sport second, we hope the ripple effect of positive experiences in sport are felt by their participants in their communities. Therefore changing lives and, in turn, creating a surge of sporting enthusiasts."

Two young men who had spent time with the programme shared their stories.

Terrell Jordan, 21, who graduated from the London apprentice scheme, said: "I started Coach Core at 16.

"I was straight out of secondary school, didn't really know what I was doing next, I had no idea, but the one thing I did have was sport."

He added: "My peers and my mentors I worked with gave me a lot of empowerment, they empowered me to be a better person.

"I was forced to blossom from being quite shy and (with) low self-confidence, but over time at Coach Core, meeting people like Prince Harry ... I had to grow."

Ethan Beard, 19, who is currently on the Nottingham coaching course, said that before starting his training he had little to do.

He said: "I was a typical 18-year-old, I had just finished college and I was sitting on my bum doing nothing, literally."

Former international bowler Swann said he was amazed it had taken so long for the idea of coaching apprenticeships to catch on.

He said: "It's such a good idea - it's taking people from communities, coaching them and making them better people, empowering them to be better people and then putting them back into communities."

He added: "Prince Harry wants this up and down the country in every city and I cannot see any reason why it couldn't be.

"Just looking at the guys who are here today and the energy and enthusiasm they've all got - there's a certain dynamism about the whole thing, it really feels like it's going places."

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