KENWYNE JONES relished the opportunity to show off his skills on a basketball court at Newcastle-under-Lyme College . . . and then highlighted the importance of initiatives which encourage young people to participate in sport.
The Trinidad and Tobago international was taking part in the launch of a basketball project which will now form part of the hugely-successful Premier League 4 Sport scheme that has been in operation for three years.
Local youngsters will be able to take part in coaching sessions in the city after basketball joined hockey, badminton, volleyball and table tennis as one of the designated activities under the Premier League 4 Sport directive.
"This is a brilliant idea from Premier League 4 Sport," exclaimed Jones after spending much of his time at the college playing with Team GB stars and the Newcastle Knights. "It's so important to get young people playing sport.
"I was fortunate when I was young to be able to play so many different sports in the Caribbean and I loved basketball at school, even though I didn't take it too seriously. For me, deciding to become a footballer was the right choice.
"I follow the NBA though and play basketball when I get the chance, which is why I've enjoyed getting involved in this launch."
He added: "You can see the enthusiasm of the young people and it's fantastic that they now have this support to play the sport."
The launch of the Premier League 4 Sport basketball sessions is the result of a partnership between the Stoke City Community Trust and the Newcastle Knights Basketball team supported by Newcastle-under-Lyme College.
Dawn Bracegirdle. Community Projects Manager with the Stoke City Community Trust, explained why basketball has the potential to be successful in the city.
"Basketball has a strong tradition here in North Staffordshire with a history of clubs and competitions for players of all ages," she said. "That activity for junior players has dropped in recent years and our Premier League 4 Sport project aims to boost that interest once again with the help and support of Newcastle Knights."