Prince Harry is up to his old tricks – rugby tricks, that is!
The prince, who appeared at an event Tuesday to support the idea that sports can help counter social challenges, watched in wonder as freestyle soccer champion Andrew Henderson did some impressive juggling with a rugby ball. During one move, Henderson balanced the ball on his foot, flicked it up in the air and then did a handstand and caught the ball between his legs – without even looking at the ball. “It’s one of the hardest tricks and [Harry] said he’d like to give that one a go,” Henderson tells PEOPLE.“Prince Harry’s such a great guy. The fact he can come here and interact with the kids and have fun – it’s so great to see the smile on the kids’ faces,“ he adds. Harry didn’t take part in the activity himself because of his own aches and pains.
“He said he’s got a little bit of a bad back,â€ Henderson adds. â€œBut I know he’s got some skills. He said, â€˜Well done,â€™ and was really impressed. He said he knew it was possible with a [soccer ball], but he didnâ€™t know it was possible with a rugby ball.” Harry was at the community rugby program run by the Rugby Football Union, of which he is vice-patron, in Stockport, near Manchester on Tuesday. In between watching the juggling and then taking part in a quick game with some of England’s under-20 rugby squad, he met some local kids who put their hands through the playground fence so they could high-five and shake hands with the royal. One little girl, Lottie, 6, told him, “I want to marry you. I want to be a princess.” Harry had the perfect response. “You don’t want that – there’s too big an age gap. You’ve been reading a lot of books,” he said. Another little girl, Maisie Stokes, caught his eye because she’s a redhead like him. “You’re nice, very pretty. Are you having fun?” Want to keep up with the latest royals coverage? Click here to subscribe to the Royals Newsletter.
Harry’s visit was part of his initiative to spread awareness about how sports can help tackle social issues.
Last month, he headed to a boxing club in south London to see how sports can help vulnerable kids.
The day was being run by the RFU and the charity StreetGames, which brings sports to young people “who don’t have to be the richest or most sporty,” says chief executive Jane Ashworth.
“It’s fantastic that Prince Harry has such a commitment to helping young people through sport,” she tells PEOPLE. “I think it’s really clear from looking at the kids that they feel validated, that what they’re doing is important. Harry coming here reinforces that commitment.” Fifteen-year-old Destiny Wong, a sports ambassador with the local group, Life Leisure, played rugby alongside the prince at the event. “He’s a really genuine and down to earth guy. We were taught some tricks. He said, ‘You can do it. If I can do it, you can.’ He was really encouraging. He’s come here to promote the sport and done a good job because the turnouts massive.” “You wouldn’t think a prince would be like this. He doesn’t come across as a prince. He’s so genuine. He was really encouraging with all the girls here. I would definitely play rugby again.”