Friday 27 April 2012
Stoke City defender Matthew Upson gave his backing to the Premier League 4 Sport initiative as he met up with Olympic stars at the club's Clayton Wood training complex this week.
Upson and Potters team-mate Marc Wilson also took part in a volleyball session as they attended a PL4S 'Inspire Series' event with members of the Great Britain Ladies Volleyball team.
The event gives stars of the future a chance to meet with Olympic hopefuls.
"I am sure there will be many of them who will become big names if they achieve their Olympic dreams"
- Matthew Upson
Upson believes this summer's London Olympics has provided an opportunity for youngsters to take part in a variety of sporting activities.
"The whole event will inspire many young people to achieve their sporting goals and encourage many more to take up sports," said Upson.
"We have seen this with the amount of work that has been done in the lead up to the event with sports such as volleyball which are backed by the Premier League."
The GB Ladies Volleyball team, represented by skipper Lynne Beattie, vice-captain Maria Bertelli, Ciara Michel, Grace Carter and Rachel Laybourne, shared their expertise and skills with Newcastle Staffs Volleyball Club.
And Upson, who has experience of taking part in an international competition when playing for England at the 2010 World Cup, offered words of encouragement to the GB squad.
"It's fantastic that these dedicated athletes, and indeed many others, will get the exposure this summer which comes with competing in the Olympics and it is fantastic that they have the chance to be involved in them in this country," he added.
"I was privileged to play for England in one of the greatest sporting events in the world, so I know how much it will mean to them to perform at this level.
"I am sure there will be many of them who will become big names if they achieve their Olympic dreams and hopefully these girls will be among them."
PL4S is a pioneering sports participation programme which was launched in 2009 and is a joint venture between the Premier League, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust.
It harnesses the nation's love of football to inspire young people to take up the opportunity to sample four Olympic sports - badminton, judo, table tennis and volleyball.
The programme was funded by a £3.8m investment through the Premier League Creating Chances programme in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
It has inspired more than 39,300 youngsters across the country to try out a new sport and it has proved to be such a success that the Barclays Premier League has committed to another £2m of funding, doubling the number of Olympic sports PL4S works with.
The initiative has also been nominated for the Sport Industry Awards 2012.