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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Harry has a ball in Brazil: Rugby, volleyball and a fond salute to his big brother as Prince takes charm offensive to the beach

By George Arbuthnott

Hit: Wearing a shirt and baseball cap in the Brazilian colours and his name, Prince Harry gives it his all in a game against some of Brazil's top beach volleyball players

It's possibly not the first time that a game of beach volleyball has raised Prince Harry’s pulse rate.

But yesterday, the sport got the 27-yearold hot and sweaty when he took part in a spirited game in the 88F (31C) heat of Rio de Janeiro.

After diving and lunging across the sands of Copacabana beach in his yellow and green Brazilian shirt, Harry declared this was ‘my kind of game’ – even though he admitted it left him exhausted.

The 27-year-old royal was clearly having a ball during the match amid stunning scenery

Double world champion Adriana Behar, who had given him some coaching tips, asked: ‘Will you be watching the beach volleyball at the London Olympics because it’s so near your home?’

Harry replied: ‘I’ve already bought the tickets.’

Adriana, 43, said: ‘I’m really happy. I can’t wait to meet him again in London. He was really good and he’s clearly played before.’

The match was part of a day of sport for the Prince, which also included a mile-long fun run in aid of Sport Relief, which he competed in 8 min 32 sec.

Drama: Prince Harry sinks to his knees to save a shot as the crowd looks on and thanks his opponents, who are some of Brazil's top beach volleyball players

The game took place in the shadow of Rio de Janeiro's iconic Sugar Loaf mountain

In one of many moments of levity, he was handed a cardboard mask of his brother.
Putting it on, he ran for a while disguised as Prince William alongside blind athlete Alice de Oliveura Correio, 17.

Harry also taught local children to play rugby on the beach – although his technique of slowing down his young opponents by tugging at their shirts might be frowned upon by the sport’s governing bodies.

Luckily the vice-president of the Rugby Football Union is unlikely to complain – since it’s one HRH Prince Harry.

The young Royal was keen to promote the sport in Brazil because it will be included for the first time in the Olympics during the 2016 Rio games.

Catch! Prince Harry enjoys a game of rugby with children on Rio's Flamengo Beach

Get off! Prince Harry tries to stop his young opponents getting their hands on the ball by pulling at their shirts

Mine! It doesn't matter if they're half his height; Prince Harry's young rivals at the Flamingo Beach match in Rio are still not allowed a look-in

Prince Harry gives some direction during his rugby game with the children on the beach

After giving his lessons, Harry joked: ‘One plea to all Brazilians, though. Please, please, if we show you how to play rugby, don’t do what you’ve done with football, and leave us wishing we hadn’t!’

Last night he was due to finish his sporting day with a game of cricket in the notorious Complexo de Alemao – a group of 13 favela slums in the north of Rio, which until a police and army push in November 2010 was controlled by heavily armed drugs gangs comprising thousands of men.

There are now at least 1,800 soldiers permanently patrolling the favelas and extra military were drafted in to provide security around the Prince.

Joker: Prince Harry (centre) wore a mask of his brother Prince Wiliam during the Sport Relief Mile in Rio de Janeiro

Jogging along: British woman Hettie Allison runs wearing a Prince William mask - perfect for Prince Harry to wear for the Sport Relief event

Today, Harry will end his official visit to Brazil with a polo match in the city of Campinas, raising money for his Sentebale African children’s charity.

Sport was a big part of Harry’s trip since it is an important strand in a £25 million marketing campaign designed to use the London Olympics and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to woo more tourists to Britain.

On Friday night, the Prince launched the campaign on Sugarloaf Mountain by lifting the FA Cup. David Beckham spoke by video link, telling Prince Harry to ‘get the party started as only he can’.

All in hand: Prince Harry has spotted the mask of his brother and continues the race holding it

Family affair: Hettie Allison (centre), with friends who have also dressed for the occasion. Hettie gave her mask to Prince Harry, who wore it as he crossed the finishing line

Harry responded: ‘That was David Beckham. Apparently he used to play football. Thank you, David.’

The Prince has also been promoting British business in Brazil – a country he said he had a special affection for.

‘Over the years, I’ve seen and heard so much about this extraordinary place,’ he said in speech. ‘In fact, ever since my father told me about a certain dance he once had with a beautiful girl called Pina. It just seems to have stuck in his mind, for some reason . . .’

Prince Harry chatted to model and actress Lily Cole last night after making a speech praising British-Brazilian relations at the launch of the Great Campaign on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio De Janeiro

It was a light-hearted reference to the famous image of Prince Charles dancing enthusiastically with a scantily clad samba dancer named Pina de Beija-Flora during his visit to Rio in 1978.

‘Everything about Rio makes you want to dance,’ Harry said. ‘I’m just so thankful that my brother isn’t here because he might actually do it – and that would not be cool.

‘I feel that it’s going to be a great era for our two countries, for the friendship between us – something like a marriage. Now, there’s an idea . . .’



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