Prince Harry had a field day as he took part in a street rugby event at Alexandra Park in Stockport, Cheshire on Tuesday. The game was watched by hundreds of children, and was part of an initiative to get younger people to try their hand at rugby.
The Prince played a scratch game of touch on a tennis court along with members of England’s Under 20 squad, who recently beat South Africe to reach the final of the U20 World Championships, and will play against Ireland on Saturday. Harry showed off his sporty side, pretending to hit the camera with the ball and almost knocking over a cameraman while catching a pass.
Prince Harry is Vice-Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The day’s events were part of a community rugby program, backed by the RFU and StreetGames, a sports charity. The objective was to encourage children to get involved in the game, as indicators have shown that participation in organised sport drops as they grow up. In addition to organising the rugby demonstration, StreetGames run Doorstep and Pop Up Sports Clubs, which offer accessible sporting opportunities to people from poorer communities.
StreetGames was set up in 2005 with the aim to make sport more easily available for disadvantaged young people and maximise the power of sport to change lives. The organisation’s pilot program was run with the Football Foundation and the New Deal for Communities regeneration program, and, after receiving funding from the Sport England Lottery, StreetGames was officially launched in 2007.
After the game, Harry watched a demonstration from Andrew Henderson, world freestyle football champion, who displayed his juggling skills by tossing around odd shaped rugby balls. Before leaving, the Prince took some time to shake hands and talk to the cheering youngsters who had gathered to see him play.
Melanie Beech, who had come to watch the event with her 11 year-old son Kian and 6 year-old daughter Maisie was one of the people who got to speak to the Prince. “That’s the first thing he said, ‘She’s [Maisie’s] got the same colour hair as me.'” Ms Beech said. “We have been discussing the Queen’s 90th birthday. I have always loved the royals, especially William and Harry.”