The Wimbledon Final is one of the most glamorous and prestigious events in the sporting calendar, a magnificent spectacle that captures the attention of the world without fail every single year.
It plays host to two sportsmen competing at the pinnacle of their game, and royalty, stars of stage and screen, and thousands of punters make the pilgrimage to SW19 to enjoy it.
This year we were able to sprinkle it with even more stardust than usual. One of our students, eleven year old Michael Ntim, was selected to perform the coin toss which preceded the match.
“I am so excited. It’s so rare that someone gets chosen and I can’t believe it’s me,” he said in the build up to the match. “I hope my family and friends at school will see me because they have encouraged me to go to SHINE and since I’ve gone, I’ve loved it so much.”
Michael attends our SHINE on Saturday programme in Mitcham, or SHINE Merton as it’s also known. The Wimbledon Foundation generously co-funded the programme with us last year, and wanted to reward one of our students with this unique opportunity.
Out of 60 students who attend the programme, Michael was the outstanding candidate for the job. Michael exhibits all the qualities that we at SHINE aim to nurture in our young people – hard work, commitment, dedication – and he is also an inspiration to his classmates. Michael has attended SHINE on Saturday for two years, and is now a SHINE Ambassador. He is making the leap to secondary school in September, but will still return to SHINE Merton every Saturday as a Peer Mentor – voluntarily offering support to help younger students who need a bit of a boost in the classroom.
Michael’s day kicked off when he and his parents were collected by the official Wimbledon club cars and chauffeured to the Clubhouse. They were welcomed into the Players’ Lounge, where they brushed shoulders with the likes of Tim Henman and Boris Becker, as well as another SHINE ambassador – the inimitable Sir Alex Ferguson. Michael was kindly greeted by Andrew Jarrett, the Chair Umpire of the Championships, who offered him some sage advice on how to cope with pre-Centre Court nerves.
He also gave a very special pre-match interview, which you can watch here: [youtube clip_id=”RKCzWlgijEg”]
Then, shortly before 2pm, Michael walked out onto court, to the cheers of 15,000 adoring fans. He performed the toss (which fell in the favour of Federer, by the way), had his photo taken with the two finalists, and then took his courtside seat to watch the match with his parents.
True to his character, Michael said before the match “I want it to be a fair contest, and I want it to be very competitive.” He certainly got what he wanted, with Federer and Djokovic both lighting up the court with their supreme performances.
Djokovic may have walked away with the title, but for us, there was one star who shone even brighter than the champion. Michael said: “My favourite part of the day was the coin toss. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!’”
Kristina Burton, who manages the project Michael attends, said “Naturally we were delighted about this opportunity, and it exceeded all our expectations. It was wonderful to be able to promote our work at SHINE in Mitcham and beyond and help yet another child to shine.”
Everyone here at SHINE would like to extend our utmost gratitude to The Wimbledon Foundation for making this possible, and our warmest congratulations to Michael. We think you are absolutely ace.