Prince Harry believes that sport has the power to change lives for the better. He has championed access to sport for children and young people to give them confidence, and valuable life skills. He has also championed the value of sport in helping wounded servicemen become mentally and physically stronger as they recover from injury, through his work with Invictus.
Promoting sport for young people
Prince Harry excelled at sport at school and was a house games captain at Eton. He has a particular passion for Rugby, and has worked to improve access to sport for all young people.
The Prince spent part of his 2004 gap year training as an Assistant Development Officer with the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Once qualified he went out to schools and clubs around the country assisting community rugby coaches to teach the game to young people of all ages and from all communities.
Terry Burwell, the RFU's community rugby and operations director, said at the time that the Prince demonstrated great empathy with young people. “Whether he is teaching rugby or teaching about life, he enthuses them,” he said.
Building on this experience, in 2013 Prince Harry became the patron of the Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme. This aims to promote rugby in schools by improving access to facilities and equipment for all children.
Prince Harry, as Honorary President of England 2015 and Vice-Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), played an active role in supporting the Rugby World Cup 2015 and was involved in promoting the participatory legacy for rugby at grassroots level, especially the opportunities for children and young people to enjoy the game.
In promoting sport for young people, Prince Harry is following both a Royal and a family tradition. His grandfather founded the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and has held a number of patronages linked to encouraging young people to keep active and get outdoors.
Continuing this sporting commitment, Prince Harry together with his brother and sister-in-law worked together with their own charity, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to develop the Coach Core programme.
Coach Core aims to improve the quality and availability of sports coaching and mentoring in inner city schools, by training young people to provide these services in their own communities.
After successful launches in the UK, Prince Harry helped to launch a partner project in Harlem, New York, on his visit to the USA in 2013 and joined in a session with young people from the area.
“They represent living proof of what can be achieved. It was truly uplifting. So, sport and coaching really does change lives,” he said afterwards.
Sport has also been a way that Prince Harry has engaged with young people from across the world when carrying out official engagements and representing the Royal Family overseas.
Sport has been the vehicle for their recovery, allowing them to channel their passion into what can be achieved, rather than what can't. No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injury but as athletes, competitors and team mates
During his trip to South Africa in 2015, Prince Harry visited two similar schemes, Surfers Not Street Children and Premiere Skills, which are using sport as a convening tool to teach children about social issues and provide opportunities for skills and social development.
While in Jamaica in 2012 representing his grandmother during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Prince Harry met groups of elite and student athletes at the Usain Bolt track in Kingston. He raced against Usain Bolt himself, to the delight of the crowds.
Prince Harry also visited Brazil in 2012 at the request of the British government to promote ties and emphasize the transition from the upcoming 2012 London Games to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
He played beach volleyball on Flamengo Beach in Rio De Janeiro and spent time with young children engaged in sport in the city. He also joined a Sport Relief Mile race in the city before visiting a Sport Relief funded project working with young people in one of city’s favellas.
Annemarie Elsom, from Sport Relief, said of Prince Harry’s visit to the favellas: “To have this really high profile visitor, Prince Harry, coming in to see the centre it will just show how things are different here now.”
The Invictus Games
Prince Harry is committed to ensuring that wounded servicemen and women have the opportunity to rediscover their self-belief and fighting spirit through physical challenges.
He is the force behind The Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel, which took place in London from 10-14 September 2014.
The Invictus Games in 2014 saw 400 competitors compete in nine adaptive sports including Archery, Athletics, Road Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball Wheelchair Rugby, Indoor Rowing and Powerlifting.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park hosted events in the iconic London Aquatics Centre, Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley VeloPark and Here East, with athletics running at Lee Valley Athletics Centre.
The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury.
The next Invictus Games will take place in 2017 in Toronto, Canada.