Academy's batting average impresses

MORE and more talented young sports stars in Edinburgh are going on to represent their country following the creation of a specialist sports academy in the city two years ago.

New figures today reveal that more than 80 per cent of pupils attending the City of Edinburgh Schools Sports Academy were selected to play in regional or national squads last year.

Around 90 pupils from 19 secondary schools in the Capital currently attend the academy, which features badminton, basketball, cricket, cycling and football.

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Two further talent development programmes have also been established, the first, an advanced player development centre for football at Meggetland Sport Centre, and the other an advanced rider development centre for cyclists.

There is also a pilot disability sport programme to induct talented young athletes with a disability into the sports academy.

The city council would like to open up the academy to primary school children, and there are also discussions under way with independent schools, whose pupils are keen to gain a place.

Cricketer Oasmaan Malik, a Currie High School pupil who has been attending the sports academy since its creation, represented Scotland last year. The team went on to win the European under-15 championship.

The 15-year-old said: "You get really good coaches through the academy and also get to go to Telford College to do gym work.

"Cricket is growing in Scotland and I really want to be a part of that.

It's exciting getting the chance to play for your country."

The academy has also nurtured the talents of Leigh Kasperek, from Firhill High School, who represented Scotland in the Scotland Cricket Ladies team.

Leigh is the only girl in the academy and has quickly gone from not being involved at all with the Scotland team to being the star performer last year. She was also selected for the European women's team and has attended two European cricket academies.

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Education leader Marilyne MacLaren, said: "It's fantastic that more young people are taking part in sport and that budding talent is being recognised