Standing at over 6 feet tall, Prince Harry is usually a head above the rest. But when he stood next to towering basketball pro Carmelo Anthony Wednesday, he had to settle for second fiddle.
At St. James’s Palace in London, Harry and Knicks player Anthony welcomed a new generation of newly qualified sports coaches under a program set up by the charity headed by Harry and his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law Kate.
It was the culmination of the Royal Foundation’s Coach Core, an initiative that helps at-risk and disadvantaged youths stake out careers as professional sports coaches and mentors.
Anthony, 30, who presented Harry with his own personalized shirt and a bright single orange training shoe, was in London on behalf of the NBA, which has teamed up with The Royal Foundation – Kensington Palace’s charitable arm – to support a range of humanitarian and altruistic programs. (Most recently, the foundation launched a campaign in December to raise awareness of illegal wildlife trade.)
The royal trio launched Coach Core just before the 2012 London Olympics. In the programs run in London, Glasgow and New York, apprentices learn technical sports skills alongside coaching and mentoring. The course is specifically designed to help students find employment afterward and has served as a springboard for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, some of whom had dropped out of school or were unemployed.
Harry, 30, told the graduates Wednesday, “When my brother, Catherine and I launched the Coach Core program back in 2012, we had a vision of young people being inspired to become amazing sports coaches for their communities and beyond – young people who would, in turn, inspire others to change their lives through sport.”
He added: “Like many others, we had been profoundly moved by the excitement of the London Olympics – a celebration of sporting achievement. Of course, this level of excellence is only possible through an immense amount of hard work by the athletes, their coaches, mentors and all those who support them on their journey to greatness.”
One of the graduates, James Forrester, 19, from Glasgow said he hopes to become a sports development officer and credits the program with steering him in the right direction.
“It had helped me get settled financially and I have so many ambitions for the future,” he told reporters at the event at St. James’s Palace. “It has transformed my life.”