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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 19:21 GMT
Blair opens sporting foundation
Tony Blair playing tennis
Tony Blair has promoted sporting initiatives in the past
Former prime minister Tony Blair has opened a sporting foundation in the County Durham constituency where he had his home for 20 years.

The Tony Blair Sports Foundation plans to nurture young sporting talent in areas suffering social exclusion.

It will focus on indoor rowing, tennis, athletics and football and already has support from former Olympic track star Steve Cram and rower James Cracknell.

The foundation will be based at Mr Blair's former home village of Trimdon.

Speaking at the opening, Mr Blair it was an honour to be back in his former constituency as he owed it so much for what he had achieved in public life.

'Have fun'

He said: "I wanted to set up a sports foundation in the North East to put something back and to do something for young people.

"Children really enjoy sport if they are given a chance."

James Cracknell will help deliver the foundation's first project - a new indoor rowing challenge for the 31 School Sport Partnerships in the North East, starting in Sedgefield.

If fully subscribed, the indoor rowing programme will involve 250 schools, and 70,000 children in its first year alone.

The double Olympic champion Cracknell said: "As far as I am concerned, the more children we can introduce to indoor rowing, the better.

"It will give them the chance to have fun, get fit, and find out what they can achieve when they put their minds to it."

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