Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 13:40 UK

Medieval game gets sport status

Sharon Scott of Horsted Keynes Stoolball Club in action
The equipment and scoring are similar to cricket (Photo by Brett Butler)

A medieval game that is almost exclusively played in the South East has been recognised as a sport.

The Sports Council agreed that Stoolball, which is played by up to 4,000 people in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, met its criteria.

A round willow bat and wickets made of wooden boards on stakes are used to play the game which has links to the development of cricket.

The National Stoolball Association hopes its profile will now be raised.

Played in Thailand

Chairman John Price said: "We are delighted with our new status which is the result of six years of hard work and lobbying.

"Stoolball already appears in the National Curriculum and we are hoping that our new found recognition will generate further uptake within schools and the creation of many more clubs across the country."

The game, which has a similar scoring system to cricket, is believed to date back to the 14th century with matches traditionally held during religious festivals.

There are also records of it being played in colonial Boston in North America.

Although Stoolball is predominately a South East activity, it was recently introduced into a school in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand.

The National Stoolball Association has also developed a programme with University College London that has helped train 250 coaches.

Lisa O'Keefe, from Sport England, said: "It is a great achievement to be recognised as a sport and we hope this development will raise the profile of Stoolball, enabling its popularity to spread beyond the South East."


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