Prince Harry has received one of the more unusual gifts to mark a royal event – a size 15 basketball shoe.
NBA All-star Carmelo Anthony, who plays for the New York Knicks, gave His Royal Highness the enormous right boot he had signed on its toe and a team vest emblazoned with the name “Wales” above the number 15.
The presentation took place as the two men recognised the first graduates of an ambitious sports programme – Coach Core – which boosts the career prospects and life skills of disadvantaged young people by training them to become professional sports coaches and mentors. 33 young people have completed the year-long Coach Core course and many said their practical coaching experience had helped them find work or allowed them to pursue more formal qualifications at college or university.
The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry created the programme in 2012 which is run in partnership with the organisation Glasgow Life in Scotland and with Greenhouse Charity in London, in response to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s shared aim to inspire young people through sport.
The NBA is also working to support Coach Core in developing young, motivated and talented new basketball coaches through coaching experience and logistical support, meaning that The Royal Foundation now has three programmes running in London, Glasgow and New York.
The Coach Core programme has helped these young apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds; who have dropped out of school; who were unemployed; who were struggling to find positive opportunities to gain qualifications, confidence and transferable life skills to learn technical sport skills with an emphasis on employability and mentoring skills.
In a speech Prince Harry praised the achievements of the young men and women, he said: "All those graduating today have also worked fantastically hard in getting to this point. Completing the Coach Core programme has, I know, not been easy – but then trying to be the best you can be, isn’t easy.
“Having met a number of you over the past year or so, I have some understanding of the challenges you faced; William, Catherine and I have all been hugely impressed by the resilience and determination you have shown in overcoming these challenges.”
He added: “Your commitment to the programme and resulting success has helped to prove the Coach Core programme is effective at generating life changing opportunities through sport. I am absolutely delighted that the same opportunity is now being enjoyed by a second cohort of apprentices in London and Glasgow.”
"I hope that by 2016 we will see further programmes springing up in other parts of the UK, providing opportunities for more young people like you."
One young person that Coach Core has helped is Tracey Jenkins, who used the programme to help her overcome serious anger issues. Tracey is now in full time employment at Greenhouse charity and has started a level three apprenticeship in supporting the delivery of Physical Education and School Sport.