Matt Pritchard named as Olympic Torchbearer

Matt Pritchard, Wales Rugby League’s development officer for North Wales, has been named as one of 55 exceptional community sports leaders who, through Coca-Cola’s Future Flames campaign, will be honoured as official London 2012 Olympic Torchbearers.

He will join over 1,300 other inspirational people nominated through Coca-Cola’s Future Flames campaign, and carry the Olympic Flame as it travels around the country this summer, building excitement ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The 28-year old, who has worked in the community for Rugby League in Wales for over four years, was nominated by the UK doorstep sport charity, StreetGames to recognise his outstanding work in getting young people from deprived communities playing Street Rugby. The rules of Street Rugby are determined based on the location whether this is in a park, on concrete or on sand.

Pritchard was one of the originators of Street Rugby which started in four areas of Bridgend in 2009 while he was working for the original Celtic Crusaders side. Today it has increased to 14 areas across Wales.

He will be carrying the Olympic Torch in The London Borough of Wandsworth on 23 July 2012 with the time and exact location being emailed to him in June.

Pritchard said: “I was taken back when I was put forward by StreetGames and it still hasn’t sunk in. I think it only will when I run with the Torch on 23rd July.

“It is truly an honour to be one of the 8,000 people and to have my name next to such great individuals who have been recognised for their hard work and achievements.

“I’m not just representing my family but also the game of Rugby League along with all the partnerships, children and volunteers involved in Street Rugby. It is truly an honour and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the StreetGames National Charity who are doing fantastic work and are really changing people’s lives.”

StreetGames Wales manager, Caro Wild said: “Matt is a unique person who has worked incredibly hard and skilfully to make positive changes to young people’s lives. His approach with children, communities and local partners has allowed him to build a lot of trust and optimism around getting people more active.”

National Development Manager for Wales Rugby League, Mark Jones said: “Wales Rugby League would like to congratulate Matt on having the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch. It is just rewards for his hard work and commitment to the Community game over the last four years. This is another great advert for Rugby League in Wales and the strides that the sport has made in Community Development. Matt should be very proud of his achievements.”

This announcement is just one part of a three-year partnership between Coca-Cola and StreetGames. The partnership forms a key element of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games, allowing StreetGames to grow its network of projects to bring sport to 110,000 young people in the most deprived areas of the country and helping LOCOG meet its legacy targets.

These schemes include the first ever StreetGames Sport for Change Training Academy, which will prepare 100 tutors to deliver 11 new training courses to around 6,000 sports coaches. Alongside this, a series of mass participation festivals and 300 local neighbourhood festivals will take place, giving young people greater access to sport across the country.

James Williams, Director of the Olympic Torch Relay at The Coca-Cola Company, said: “With the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games only months away, I’m thrilled we’ve been able to start the celebrations early by confirming the StreetGames participants who have been selected as Olympic Torchbearers through our Future Flames campaign. They are all outstanding people who spread happiness in their local communities to make Britain burn brighter, and now they will be honoured with the amazing experience of carrying the Olympic Flame. It would be great to see as many StreetGames participants as possible joining us in cheering them on as they run along the route and at their closest evening event, so they can Move to the Beat in celebration of their local Future Flames.”