Football-crazy Harry helps others get into sport

Football crazt Harry Stevens

Football crazt Harry Stevens - Credit: Archant

A football-crazy teenager who is a positive role model for others and has raised money for charity is in a competition that hails the ‘giving to others’ of Cambridgeshire’s younger generation.

Harry Stevens, from March, devotes his spare time to helping younger pupils participate in sport by refereeing school games and last month cycled over 150 miles for charity.

Now he has been nominated for the Kiss Communications Young People of the Year awards or ‘YOPEYs’ – Oscars for young people who are positive role models – which closes to entries this week.

This is the 10th year of YOPEYs in Cambridgeshire and the annual contest has over 1000 to be won by young people who ‘give to others’. There will be at least two Cambs Young People of the Year. A senior YOPEY, aged 18-25, winning 500, and a junior YOPEY, aged 10-17, winning 300. Either prize can be won by an individual or group and the winners have to invest most of their winnings in their good cause but can keep 100 to treat themselves. There will also be several runners-up prizes.

Harry, of Hunter’s Chase, was nominated by his teacher James Crawley at Neale Wade Academy in March.

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James said: “Harry comes across as one of the stand-out students in his year, for his attitude and effort and the way he speaks to people. He’s a lot more assured than a lot of year elevens and is a really nice lad.

“He’s has spent the last five years working hard in sport while helping younger students.

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“In PE, Harry is an exemplar student both practically and academically.”

James went on to explain: “Since passing his refereeing course he has refereed almost every lower school football game when Neale Wade have played at home. He does a really good job.

“Students love working with Harry and have developed their skills. They respect him as he’s got a very adult way of talking to them and treats them with respect. He’s outgoing, but not cocky, so has got the balance exactly right. It is quite natural to him.

“In school he plays a vital role in organising, running and refereeing inter-form and inter-school junior football festivals. This gives younger students the chance to participate in competitive sport.

“Furthermore, Harry has worked on leadership initiatives such as morning clubs for students playing sport before school.”

Harry who has just finished his GCSEs and is planning to study A-levels in sport, chemistry, biology and maths. In two years’ time, he hopes to go on to Nottingham Trent University to study sports science or physiotherapy.

“I’ve always been into football and like being the captain, so I enjoy being in charge,” he said.

When Harry was 14 he took his first refereeing badge and has already completed level five of the 10 levels available.

“Each course takes around three days, one day is practical and two are theory days. The oldest person there was 56 and the youngest was 12, so I guess when I first started I was one of the youngest.

“I enjoy the responsibility, getting a front row seat and having to make the decisions.

“I love to see the look on the faces of the children, especially the young kids, when I give them feedback. It gives me great satisfaction.

“I like to work hard during school work because I want the best for my future. PE has always been my favourite subject and I like to take advantage of all the opportunities offered me.

“Being captain in both football and rugby allows me to make important decisions and shows my good leadership qualities. I feel it’s important to take on-board as many opportunities as possible to help me gain experience for when I am older.”

Although he is only 16, Harry plays goalkeeper for March Town men’s team and his dream would be to turn professional as a footballer, but he is realistic and that is why he has his sights set on a career that supports sports people.

In July Harry finished the final stages of his National Citizen’s Service and helped raise 400 for Whittlesea Youth Centre by doing a stationary bike ride.

“We thought it would be good to do the length of Britain in six hours. But we managed to do 927 miles, which is even more. I did 168 miles in five-and-half hours.”

YOPEY has been praised by national leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron who said YOPEY entries show determination and “resolve to make a difference”.

YOPEY was started in Cambridgeshire 10 years ago by former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing, who said: “There are many young people in Cambridgeshire doing wonderful things for others. It’s just that they live in the shadow of a well-publicised anti-social minority.

“We need to give young people the respect they deserve and set up the best as positive role models for others to copy rather than focusing on the small number who appear in the press for negative reasons.”

About this entry, Tony said: “Harry enjoys responsibility and helping others in football and devotes a great deal of time to ensuring others get the most out of the sport. That’s a good score in YOPEY’s book.”

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