An Ambitious bid to get Aunt Sally included in the London 2012 Games is gathering momentum.

At first, it looked as if the idea, the brainchild of Andy Beal – the secretary of the Greene King Oxford & District League – would never get off the ground as ‘exhibition sports’ will not be included for London.

However, further enquiries by the Oxford Mail have revealed Aunt Sally could be included in the sports section of the Games’ Inspire programme.

A spokesman for the London 2012 Organising Committee said the International Olympic Committee, who are responsible for deciding which sports appear at the Games, had ruled there would no ‘exhibition’ sports at London 2012.

But he added: “There are, however, opportunities for local sporting and cultural projects to be part of London 2012 through our Inspire programme.”

To fulfil the criteria, projects “must increase participation in grass roots sports (including schools), sport competition and physical activity; and/or improve Olympic and Paralympic medal table performance.”

And after filling in the appropriate application forms, Beal is now waiting to hear back from the 2012 committee.

He said including the sport, which is played throughout Oxfordshire, could spark huge interest throughout the land.

And Beal’s message has been echoed on Facebook, with two groups campaigning to get Aunt Sally included on the Olympic agenda attracting a lot of attention.

“The idea has been about for quite a while and because they are being held in Britain, why not put Aunt Sally into the Games?’ said Beal.

“And it’s something which we have a good chance of winning.

“Should it be introduced to the Olympics, then we would get all the leagues together and form a small committee. With teams consisting of eight players, we would obviously need a few reserves. “It’s very doubtful it would be there as a main sport, but it would be great if it could be included as a demonstration sport where an alley could be set up somewhere on the Olympic site, to give people the chance to see what it’s all about.”

Beal added that the sport was played in various parts of the world, apart from Britain.

“There is a small group of ex-pats who play in the States and in the West Indies where George Dash, who played for the Blackbird Leys Social Club for many years, took a set when he went back.

“There’s a group of lads from The Blackbird who always take a set with them when they go to Ibiza and set up an alley on the beach.”

Beal first caught the Aunt Sally bug when he was a youngster.

“I started playing when I was about 10 or 11 with my dad and my brother and it just went on from there. As a league, we’re trying to get more youngsters involved.

“We have a father and son competiition (now parent and son) and an under 18 competition.

“I could go back 15 or 16 years when we had 240 teams. Now it’s down to 12 sections with 120 teams.

“We have on average 1,500 to 1,600 registering at the start of each season, so Aunt Sally is still pretty big around here. And of course there are leagues in Banbury, Bicester, Chipping Norton and Abingdon. I think we are holding our own.”

But he may have his work cut out with the British Olympic Committee. When asked for their thoughts on including the sport, a press officer replied: “What’s that? I have never heard of it!”

Beal said that as well as sparking interest in the sport, which is played in Oxfordshire every Wednesday night, it could also encourge landlords to set up alleys at their pubs.

“You are guaranteed to get around 20 blokes, who will drink a fair amount of beer,” he added.

“It would be great if it was on TV. Just to get a mention for Aunt Sally at the Olympics would be brilliant for us.

“If a team was put together, I would put myself up as player-manager!”