Harry holds court

14 Jun 2022 08:31
Published by: Scott Callan


Sporting lesson: Harry and his coach Andy Flower (in red) with the King’s staff team right behind him, including head Jason Slack, far left

TEENAGER Harry Smith introduced his teachers and classmates to his favourite sport on a day devoted to wheelchair basketball at the King’s School.
The 14-year-old from Leek has been a hot shot at wheelchair basketball since he was just seven and gave his willing apprentices a real run-around on the basketball court at the school’s sports centre.
Harry’s diagnosis of spina bifida means he has limited opportunity to join in with other sports, but his competitive spirit is brought to the fore when playing for Stoke Spitfires in the National League 3 Central Division and for the West Midlands at national level for their under-15 team.
Harry, who can walk but finds life easier and safer in his chair, said: “There’s no secret; it’s just practice. As I spend a lot of time in my chair, I know how to move around much more easily than my friends.”
During the day, King’s PE classes were introduced to the sport Harry loves by the player coach of Stoke Spitfires, Andy Flower, who brought down more than a dozen wheelchairs and gave coaching sessions to various age groups.
Andy, who then refereed a highly competitive staff v pupils match, said: “The secret is to learn to move the chair and control the ball at the same time. It’s a bit like tapping your head while rubbing your belly and, as Harry says, takes a lot of practice.”
King’s head Jason Slack, who Harry man marked out of the game with the occasional clash of wheels, said: “It was very hard work but great fun. I have played a little bit of basketball but never in a wheelchair and it’s whole set of different skills. I suppose as head, I had to expect some special attention, but Harry didn’t really need to mark me so closely; he was so much better than me in every department of the game.”
King’s Head of Cricket Steve Moores, who arranged the day, said: “We certainly hope to make this an annual event. Andy Flower from Stoke Spitfires did so much more for us than we could have expected, and it was much appreciated by everyone at King’s.”

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