A TEAM of students are heading to China to take part in a football World Cup for miniature robots.

Five pupils from Stonyhurst College, Hurst Green, near Clitheroe, have built and programmed their own robots ready for the event, in July.

And the nation's hopes for the tournament rest on the shoulders of the innovative youngsters.

The team of Joe Lea, 17, Padraig Alton, 17, Rebecca Waring, 15, Philip Alton, 15, and Greg O'Connor, 16, will represent England in the two-on-two soccer at the World RoboCup Junior competition to be held in Suzhou, China.

They are one of only two UK teams invited to take part after finishing equal first at the recent RoboCup Junior National Finals, held at Calday Grange Grammar School, in the Wirral, Cheshire.

Joe Lea, who lives in Hurst Green, said he was looking forward to the trip.

He said: "We are very excited about going to China to take part and learn more about robotics from other teams."

RoboCup Junior is a schools-based robotics competition and there are regular events at local, national and international level. More than 30 countries worldwide participate.

The Stonyhurst Robotics Club meets after school, every Wednesday, in the physics department to learn how to build and program robots, including how to use light and touch sensors.

The robots the boys used in the competition played games of soccer in pairs against opposing pairs using only sensors, without remote control.

Padraig Alton added: "I am very proud to be representing both Stonyhurst and England."

And organisers of Robocup have ambitious plans for the future of the tournament.

A spokesman said: "By the year 2050, we want to have developed a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team."