Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry meet apprentices at London Stadium
PUBLISHED: 18:04 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:03 19 October 2017
Young sports apprentices were given the royal seal of approval at the London Stadium.
Participants on the Coach Core scheme, which was designed by the Royal Foundation, met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at a graduation ceremony for the latest cohort of apprentices.
The year-long training, which currently operates in seven areas but will be expanding to three more, teaches youngsters aged between 16 and 24 technical sports skills alongside learning how to coach, with an emphasis on employability.
Prince Harry told participants how the royal trio were inspired to launch Coach Core in the wake of London 2012.
“At the time, William, Catherine and I were looking at the issues that we wanted to tackle together with our newly formed Royal Foundation,” he said.
“It was clear that all three of us believed firmly that sport could be such a powerful force for good.
“We knew that with the enthusiasm sweeping the country during that summer, we had a window of opportunity to bring the right people and organisations to the table to make something really exciting happen.
“The idea for Coach Core was born.”
He added: “We believe that our graduates here today really are the future of coaching.
“They have each been on a unique journey, designed to build on their existing skills to equip them with the tools to be effective role models and mentors in their communities.”
The trio watched practical sports sessions in action, including football, gymnastics, tennis and rugby, led by famous faces within each sport.
For 23-year-old Danielle Fraser, who runs her own gymnastics club after participating in Coach Core, it was a chance to play sport with royalty.
“We were playing rugby, me and Prince Harry were passing the ball to each other,” she said. “It was fantastic, it was exciting. You don’t get to do that every day, do you?”
Other apprentices have taken up roles with sporting charities, such as Andre Nathaniel-George.
The 18-year-old visits schools in east London, including Lister Community School, to coach tennis.
“It’s been a good experience,” he said. “You get to learn a lot every day, you’re working with good coaches.”
Charlotte Read has taken on a permanent job with Essex Cricket since completing her apprenticeship - despite having never played the sport.
The 19-year-old from Braintree had been working in retail for two years but wanted to do “something different”.
“Originally I wanted to be a personal trainer but there was nothing around where you didn’t have to go to university and I didn’t like that route,” she said.
“I was set on going to an athletics apprenticeship as that was my main sport, but there were so many other options.
“I went with Essex Cricket and Volleyball England, and they’re sports I’ve never played so my first challenge was actually learning how to play before I could start coaching them.
“If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be working with Essex Cricket full time I would have laughed in your face.”
Alex Hazael moved from Alicante to Brentwood to take part in the scheme.
“It looked like a fantastic opportunity,” the 20-year-old said. “They pay for qualifications, they give you massive events - my partner in my workplace was working here for the World Athletics Championships.
On the royals, he said: “They’re encouraging a lot of the younger generation with the Royal Foundation, they’ve really given us the opportunity to express ourselves.”
And there is a chance the Duke and Duchess could be returning to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with their children one day, as they were presented with West Ham shirts with Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s names on the back.
As he took the gift from Hammers skipper Mark Noble, the Aston Villa-supporting prince joked: “Right colours, wrong team.”