Heather Watson revealed a life-sized cardboard cutout of the snooker star and said:
“No, it’s not a tennis player – my sporting hero is Ronnie O’Sullivan. I grew up watching Ronnie play, my Dad is a massive snooker fan and I always loved watching Ronnie’s concentration and love for the game.
“Snooker isn’t a physical sport, it takes a lot of skill, but it’s all about your mental strength. The way he goes about both his personal life and his job, it’s all about his sport. You can see how much he loves it and studies the game and I can relate to that in my tennis. He’s also got a great personality, it’s so important to be yourself.
The storytelling session was followed by an on court clinic at the Royal Albert Hall, before the Statoil Masters Tennis Tournament kicked off.
“I love playing at the Royal Albert Hall, and I love being able to spend time with the children of Give It Your Max. I was about 11 years old when Tim Henman came to do a clinic and I will never forget that and it really inspired me and meant so much, so it’s really important for me to give back when I can as an ambassador for Statoil’s Heroes of Tomorrow.”
The British tennis star was joined on court by GIYM patrons Tim Henman, Virginia Wade OBE and Sir Trevor McDonald who also shared stories of their sporting heroes to highlight Statoil’s Heroes of Tomorrow programme, which gives support to young people in sport, culture and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Virginia Wade revealed her sports hero was Sir Rod Laver and Sir Trevor McDonald told the children how Sir Frank Warrell, the first black captain of the West Indies Cricket team, brought their childhood dreams alive.
Tim, whose hero was Bjorn Borg, said:
“Bjorn was the first person I ever saw play at Wimbledon, I was lucky enough to go to Wimbledon with my mum when I was six, we got on to Centre court and he was playing on the first day. He was defending champion, going for his sixth title, he was at the pinnacle of the game, I saw the best of tennis that day, and that had a major impact in inspiring me to my professional career.
“Young people need to have someone to look up to and someone that can inspire. That doesn’t have to be in sport, but having someone that can provide you with passion and direction, and if we can give a little bit of that to the kids of Give It Your Max then fantastic.”
Virginia Wade said:
“Playing tennis at the Royal Albert hall is extraordinary, for the children to be given this opportunity by Statoil is amazing. I know when I was growing up that do an event with the pros was rare, I used to ball boy which was always fantastic, but doing something up-close like this is amazing. They will be so inspired just by playing on the same court.
Rod Laver was my hero, I used to watch him and be in awe. But beyond the phenomenal tennis, he was just such a good guy; you can never imagine him manipulating a point or taking a point that wasn’t his, he was just so true to the game, you can’t imagine a better sportsman.”
Norway’s largest international energy company Statoil announced its support to Give It Your Max in June last year as part of its Heroes of Tomorrow sponsorship initiative.
Give It Your Max is one of the UK’s leading grass-roots tennis charities that pays for qualified tennis coaches to introduce and teach tennis to children aged between five and ten years old in the state sector. With the investment from Statoil, GIYM has been able to grow its programme across the UK, including the opening of a dedicated site in Paddington in June, earlier this year.
Andrew Lloyd, Statoil’s Vice President, Communications, said:
“As a young British woman, Heather’s commitment and achievement sets a very positive example for young people around the country, including in our own neighbourhood – Paddington – where Statoil’s sponsorship of Give It Your Max is helping some of the young children living locally, to access high-quality tennis coaching, to learn new skills, and to have fun.”
Mike Stotesbury, Founder and Trustee of ‘Give It Your Max’ added:
“We are extremely grateful to Statoil for their generous financial support for ‘Give It Your Max’ over three years. The recent opening of Paddington has allowed us to introduce more children to tennis at a young age in another deprived part of the capital. Since 2005 ‘Give It Your Max’ has introduced at least 50,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 to tennis across the UK.”
Watch the Heroes of Tomorrow video featuring Heather Watson, Tim Henman, Virginia Wade OBE and Sir Trevor McDonald here:
More information on www.statoil.com
Give It Your Max?
‘Give it your Max’ is a Registered Charity founded in memory of Max Stotesbury. He was 18 when he died in a motoring accident in 2004. He was a good tennis player and during the holidays assisted Dan Bloxham, head coach at the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative. This initiative has been a great success in introducing tennis to young children in the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Merton. To start up similar initiatives around the country was thought to be a fitting tribute to Max.
GIYM pays for qualified tennis coaches to introduce and teach tennis to children aged between five and ten years old in the state sector. The tennis is delivered during PE periods in Primary Schools in addition to evening, weekend and holiday tennis clinics. GIYM also organizes tournaments and provides programmes for the better and keener children to join tennis clubs to further their prospects. It also supplies schools with equipment such as kit bags (comprising a mini tennis net, tennis balls and rackets for use as part of schools or after-school activities).
Successful programmes are now established in Reading, Canterbury and Orpington in Kent, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Greater London, Peckhamand Merton, Paddington and Aberdeen.
The charity’s Patrons are Tim Henman OBE, Sir Trevor McDonald OBE and Virginia Wade OBE.
For further information please visit - http://www.giveityourmax.org
Like GIYM on Facebook at - https://www.facebook.com/giveityourmax
Follow GIYM on Twitter at - https://twitter.com/giveityourmax