ELLESMERE Port’s Robert Kearns is looking forward to starring in Europe’s biggest ever dodgeball tournament.

This year’s Euro Dodgeball Championships are being held in Chester – and Kearns, who plays for Ellesmere Port Pirates, will captain the Ireland Celts team.

Kearns, 25, hopes the event will help raise participation figures in the sport, which was popularised by the 2004 film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story .

“Its my first year in the national side so I’m looking forward to it,” Kearns said of the tournament, which begins on Saturday at the Cheshire Sports and Social Club. “We’ve been going into Chester University and emailed John Moores University to try and raise the awareness.

“But dodgeball has been a sport since 2005 – and last year the recognition of the UKDBA (UK Dodgeball Association) as a governing body helped the participation figures.

“That recognition was down to the increase in teams but there are very few teams in the North.”

Dodgeball sees two teams throw balls at each other across a court while trying to avoid being hit themselves.

The objective is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with thrown balls, catching a ball thrown by a member of the opposing team, or forcing them to move outside the court boundaries.

Kearns captains the Ellesmere Port Pirates, who sit in League Two of the North Division National League.

It can be a tough sport – but beginners are eased in gently.

“I know myself and a couple of the lads in the team can throw the dodgeball at up to 60mph,” added Kearns, an electrical engineer.

“That can be cause quite a panic for people who are new to the sport so we try to ease newcomers into it.

“We’ve managed to recruit 15 completely new people and considering they are all brand new to the sport, we are very happy with that.

“Its not been friends we’ve got into the sport – its actually new people and that’s down to us putting up adverts.

“We’re looking to build on that this year and we have an open door policy so it means that anyone can join at anytime.”

The Euro Championships will feature 10 men’s national teams and eight women’s national teams.

The England Lions have won the last four men’s titles.

For further information about the 2013 Euro Dodgeball Championships, including ticket details, visit www.ukdba.org .

The Pirates train twice a week at the EPIC. For further information visit the club website: www.ellesmereportpirates.co.uk .