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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
University batting for rounders
By Hannah Goff
BBC News education reporter

Stumped out: Picture by Kate Fisher
Rounders is played in 87% of England's schools - research
The quintessentially English sport of rounders is to be championed at a new university centre of excellence.

Rounders has been enjoyed in England since Tudor times and is played at an international level, and yet it is generally considered a school game.

Nine out of 10 schools in England are said to play the game, but few people pick up a bat after leaving school.

Sport students from Lancashire's Edge Hill University will offer coaching and work to spot any rising stars.

Along with the National Rounders Association, Edge Hill sports undergraduates will also run community training sessions and set up competitive leagues aimed at getting people actively involved in the sport.

Most people will say that they loved rounders at school
Alison Howard
National Rounders Association

Associate head for sports development at Edge Hill Tony Charlton said: "Rounders is the perfect sport to encourage people, particularly women and children, to take up physical activity.

"It requires no special skills, it is fun and can be played by both sexes and all ages. You also don't need expensive equipment or even a proper pitch - you can just grab a bat and go!"

Director of the National Rounders Association Alison Howard said: "Most people will say that they loved rounders at school - mainly, I think, because we are a summer sport and they have memories of lovely, sunny days.

"What we want to do is get people, especially girls, to continue to play rounders when they leave school. That's the prime time for giving up participation in sports."

She said rounders was resurgent in schools, with research for Sport England suggesting that 87% of England's primary and secondary schools play it.

England team

"We are seen as a very traditional, old fashioned sport - and many people are surprised to discover that it's played by adults of both sexes in around 40 leagues in England.

"We have players of all ages, but most of them are aged between 25 and 35.

"Our oldest player is an 81-year-old woman who plays in the Bolton league.

"She doesn't bat but she fields and plays on first post," Mrs Howard added.

Players showing promise will have their bat and ball skills honed at the centre of excellence at the university's campus in Ormskirk.

They may then be encouraged to go forward to the National Rounders Centre and possibly the England team.

The first Rounders World Cup is due to be held in Sheffield in 2008.


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