Basketball star boosts PL4S

British basketball star Dan Clark has thrown his considerable frame behind Premier League 4 Sports, after turning out at UEL Sports Dock to see the initiative in full swing.

Clark, who currently plies his trade in Spain, was only back on home soil to resolve an injury niggle and while hardly timely, his fleeting visit did, at least, enable him to take in West Ham United Community Sports Trust's multi-sports tournament.

Local children in school years nine to eleven competed on both the basketball and badminton court, with 25-year-old Clark inspired by the sight of youngsters participating with smiles on faces.

He told West Ham TV: "I'm here to support the Premier League 4 Sport campaign. This is the first time I've been here and it's a great event. It's a pleasure to be here, seeing that so many kids are playing basketball.

"It's a great opportunity for these kids. Obviously they're having a great time and enjoying it thoroughly. I'm just really happy that they're enjoying the sport."

Dan Clark PL4S

Dan Clark congratulates the tournament winners

Offering encouragement from the sidelines, Olympian Clark commended the PL4S programme, insisting that provisions rightly extend beyond football.

He continued: "Not everyone is destined to be a footballer. People might enjoy doing other sports, so I think it's a great idea, having different sports arranged and allowing kids just to enjoy it.

"It's just about getting involved, doing some physical activity and having fun in the process. Opportunities like this, PL4S, are great for the kids."

As a professional athlete himself, Clark is a firm advocate of sports clubs taking on social responsibility, having experienced its power in his own career.

"Premier League football clubs are always heavily involved in their communities and the areas around their teams," he explained. "I know they do a great job, especially with campaigns like this and events like these.

"Every professional club I've been at, we've always gone into the community and played with kids, or helped them out with whatever we can. Whether it's academically, or through sport, we've always been there to support them and help them out, so it's great."

Meanwhile, Ross McKinley of the Premier League is of a similar mind to Clark, agreeing that the delivery of a variety of sports is the way forward for PL4S.

McKinley explained: "A lot of the sports that have evolved as part of the programme are traditionally underplayed sports. So it's great for the governing bodies involved and it's great for what we call the hub clubs, which are community clubs, to grow and expand their infrastructure. But also it gives young people the opportunity to participate in sports that generally aren't played within their school arena."

PL4S now comprises of 12 sports, 12 governing bodies and some 34 football clubs. What's more, with funding secured until the 2016 Olympic Games, McKinley is wholly confident of a bright future, with competitions like these at its core.

"When PL4S first started, competitions like this weren't really on the agenda," he confirmed. "It has grown and the nature of football and football clubs and the way that they compete on a football pitch has been replicated on a badminton court or in a basketball arena like this.

"It is something the young people look forward to, something they can work towards in their training sessions and it gives them that bit extra as part of the programme."

No small part of that future is Hammers' Community Sports Trust, who committed to the scheme from day one.

"West Ham are a really big part. They've been involved since the start of the programme and the programme they've got has evolved and changed. It really kick-started the new year really well, so it's fantastic."