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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 11:48 GMT
Children aim high with giant Josh
By Kevin Leonard (6ft 2in tall)
BBC Wales news website

Josh Fowler and reporter Kevin Leonard
Josh Fowler (L) is 6ft 10in, rather taller than reporter Kevin Leonard
Pupils have been picking up basketball skills from a larger-than-life American who knows the difference between a slam dunk and a grand slam.

Josh Fowler, who stands 6ft 10in (2.08m), has been coaching basketball at schools in Rhondda, south Wales.

It is part of the 5x60 project run by the Sports Council for Wales and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The projects aims to encourage secondary school pupils to do 60 minutes of exercise, five times a week.

Josh, 24, who played college basketball in South Carolina, came to Wales to play for the Glamorgan Gladiators in the English Basketball League and has been coaching children in his spare time.

"The kids seem to love it and every session I've done they seem to be having a blast," he said.

Takeaways

"Even though basketball has been in Wales for a long time, it's rarely in the normal curriculum in schools.

"It's mostly rugby around here isn't it!"

The children say they have enjoyed learning skills from Josh and, with figures suggesting that around one in five 13-year-olds are obese or overweight, they are aware of the importance of exercise.

James Messenger, 13, a pupil at Ferndale Community School, said: "It's good to do exercise.

"At our age it's quite easy to get obese with takeaways and, when you go out, it's easy to pick up fast food instead of healthy stuff like fruit."

Ferndale children playing basketball
Pupils at Ferndale have picked up new basketball skills

Ryan Howells, 12, said: "Josh is really tall and really good!

"He's taught us new stuff and sometimes comes to the tournaments with us and encourages us."

One of the main aims of the 5x60 project is to encourage children who do not enjoy traditional sports such as rugby, to find an activity that suits them.

Julie Rotchell, of the Sports Council for Wales, said: "We're looking to encourage those children that aren't currently participating in sporting activity to become involved.

"We're encouraging them to become much more active in their lifestyles and become active adults."

Although the aim is to get children to take part in activities out of school as well, 5x60 organisers are hoping to get all secondary schools in Wales to take part by 2009.

Josh was due to fly back to South Carolina on the evening of this interview but he said he had enjoyed a fantastic experience in south Wales.

"The Rhondda is great and the people are very friendly," he said.

"It's been a great experience, probably the most valuable experience of my life."



SEE ALSO
Hi-tech play to keep children fit
14 Mar 08 |  North East Wales
How to defuse the obesity time bomb
07 Mar 08 |  Education

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