Ramps - Get netball in
Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash has joined the campaign to have netball included in the Olympic Games.
Last Updated: 31/10/08 5:05pm
Former England batsman and winner of Strictly Come Dancing, Mark Ramprakash, has joined the campaign backing The Co-operative's bid for netball to be included in the Olympics.
Earlier this year, London Assembly Member (AM) and cricket enthusiast Murad Qureshi, launched an online petition to have Twenty20 included as a demonstration sport in 2012, but now Ramprakash has stirred the debate by batting for netball to be played on the greatest stage of all.
The veteran Surrey batsman said: "I think netball should definitely be part of the Olympic Games. Like cricket, it requires a great deal of strategy, teamwork and co-ordination, and I have a lot of admiration for those who play.
"There aren't enough team sports in the Olympics, and with netball being the most popular sport for women in the world it definitely deserves to be included in the programme. There are over one million people playing netball every week in the UK, and participation at the Olympics would be a real boost to the sport."
The Co-operative, sponsors of the Netball Superleague, has backed the campaign started by England international netball player Eboni Beckford-Chambers, and recently launched the website netballolympicbid.com
Debbie Robinson, Director of Food Retail Marketing at The Co-operative, said: "Netball is such a massive sport in England, and now the Netball Superleague has expanded to include Scotland and Wales, the quality of our game will continue to improve.
"To have the support of such a high profile cricketer as Mark Ramprakash shows how much momentum our campaign has gathered.
"Netball is such a versatile game which can be played on existing indoor courts all year round, which can be used for other sports, reducing the cost for host nations.
"Already established as a core sport within the Commonwealth Games, netball has a key part to play in encouraging young women to continue playing competitive sport after they leave school."
The bid to get netball into the Olympics already has the backing of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has indicated his desire for netball to become a demonstration sport at the London 2012 Olympics, Dame Kelly Holmes, Bryan Robson and Rugby League stars Jon Wilkin and Robbie Paul.
The Co-operative, sponsors of the Netball Superleague, has recently carried out a survey in 2,000 food stores across the country using a simple 'Chip and PIN' question, which shows growing momentum for the bid.
Some 587, 705 people registered their support for netball to be included in the Olympics - double the level of support shown when a similar in-store survey was carried out in the summer.
Alongside the 31,500 people who have joined the Facebook group, 'Bid to get netball in the 2012 Olympics', this has taken the support for the campaign over the 600, 000 mark.
To add support to the 'Back the Bid' campaign, log on to www.netballolympicbid.com