VIDEO: Ashfield rounders sessions help women into sport

The last time most of us picked up a rounders bat and tried to hit the ball far enough to be able to run round all four posts in one go, was way back when we were at school.

But rounders is making a bit of a comeback in the world of sport, with more and more groups of people getting together to play.

Ashfield Ladies Rugby Club is one of those groups and is using rounders to encourage women to get involved in sport and more importantly, have fun and keep fit during the summer months.

The rugby club is running free rounders taster events down at Sutton Lawn on a Monday evening and organisers have been astounded at the level of interest, with more than 40 women turning up for the first session.

Jo Dawson, team manager of Ashfield Ladies RFC, said: “We needed something where we could keep the ladies together, do some fitness and try and recruit a few more as well.

“The idea was to try and publicise it to get some more ladies who don’t play rugby to come and play rounders.

“It’s just an idea we had to get more ladies involved in sport.”

Though co-ordinated by the rugby club, the rounders sessions are open to any women who want to go along - and attendance is not a commitment to playing rugby afterwards if you don’t want to.

“When you mention rugby, people’s faces cloud over,” said Jo.

“They think it’s too rough for them.

“But we are delighted with the turnout for the rounders. I never thought we would have this many girls and ladies doing sport on a Monday night in a public place like this.”

The rounders sessions are led by the rugby club’s designated ‘Rounders Activator’, who has been provided with training and equipment by governing body Rounders England.

They include some fitness work as well as a game of rounders, and there are, inevitably, some exercises that sneak the odd rugby ball into them.

“The fitness can put people off but when they do it, they really enjoy it,” said Jo.

Leanne Reeves (30), from Kirkby, came along to the rounders session when a rugby-playing friend encouraged her to go along.

She had not done any organised sport since school but also plans to join the rugby team next season.

“I have had a good laugh and have never touched a rugby ball before but you don’t have to be skinny to play,” she said.

“The rounders is an easier way in - you get to meet the girls and have a bit of a laugh.”

There are many barriers to women participating in sporting activities, including difficulties with childcare, a lack of confidence and because they are not in the habit of making time to exercise.

Ashfield Ladies’ team captain Mandy Taylor (37), from Sutton, has been playing rugby for 20 years and hopes that the rounders sessions will be a bridge to more women getting involved.

“We can bring new people in by showing them the rounders because sometimes when they see rugby they think it’s a big butch sport.

“It gets them more involved and you can make friends and meet new and different people,” she said.

Fifteen-year-old Demi Bispham, from Shirebrook has been playing rugby for just a year and said the rounders sessions were good for keeping fitness up as well as recruiting new people.

“We have got such a family here at Ashfield and getting new people is always nice,” she said.

Sutton woman Nikki Palmer (30) has been going along to the sessions purely for the rounders.

“I saw a flier and used to love rounders when I was at school so I came along.

“Everyone has been really friendly and welcoming and though I enjoy the rounders bit, I have also enjoyed the fitness side of it and getting out in the fresh air.”

The rounders sessions are being held for six weeks, until Monday 7th July from 7.15pm until 8.45pm on Sutton Lawn, near the skate park.

For further details contact Jo Dawson on 07837 427257 or email