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Olympic inspiration for school children

VISIT: Sam Perkins and Swin Cash with pupils (from left) Rabeya Begum, Fariha Choudhury and Arshpreet Kaur

IT WAS a day when pupils in Birmingham were told to aim high – and who better to inspire them than two of the world’s finest basketball players.

Youngsters at Holyhead School in Handsworth were treated to a visit from Sam Perkins, a world-class professional who played for several top US teams for 17 years, and Swin Cash, one of the leading female players who is hoping to make the US team for the Olympic Games in London.

She told of how one of her greatest moments was winning a gold medal during the 2004 Olympic Games.

The two role models spent time talking to pupils about how their chosen sport had opened doors for them and changed their lives, but they also stressed the importance of continuing with their education.

Cash, 32, who plays with Chicago Sky, said: “I came from humble beginnings but my mother always instilled in me the importance of education. Knowledge is power and you can retain that knowledge for a lifetime, long after your sporting career is over.”

Perkins retired from professional basketball in 2002, having played for several leading teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks and the Indiana Pacers. The 6-feet 9-inches tall 48-year-old, who was part of the US national team that won gold in the 1984 Olympics, told youngsters how his father and grandfather inspired him to pursue the game he loved.

Student ‘reporters’ then held a press conference involving the two players before enjoying some coaching sessions.

Head teacher Martin Bayliss said the day, arranged through Holyhead's existing links with the US Embassy, encouraged, engaged and motivated the students while promoting Olympic sport and values.

Holyhead’s success in securing the lead school status from the Get-Set Network and being part of the Birmingham Games Legacy has put the school at the forefront of the development of the Olympic-themed curriculum, which has been introduced into local primary schools. 

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