2019 Lawn Bowls Season
2019 is now upon us and what does this mean for lawn bowling in the UK? We all know the sport is still losing members and clubs are shutting at an alarming rate. But is there hope for lawn bowling in the UK?
We are optimistic as our facebook page is full of stories and post from younger bowlers who are coming into the game. But who is it up to to provide the game with the kick up the backside it requires? Clubs, local or national associations?
I think we all need to take a look at our own clubs first and figure out the best way to encourage new members into our clubs. Maybe this is by offering free or discounted memberships for new members backed up by a leaflet drop. In my own club Croftfoot BC this has proved very successful over the past few years. Other clubs do open days e.g. "come and try bowls" where people can get to play, overseen by club members. But the real future lies in getting school children into bowls and clubs should really be forming a strategy to get local schools into their clubs as a matter of urgency.
The national associations Bowls Scotland, Bowls England etc need to help clubs and I do believe they are now putting resources into helping clubs attract and retain members.
But is the sport still seen as an "Old mans game" ? The manufacturers Taylors Bowls, Henselite, Aero Bowls and Drakes Pride have been over the past few years bringing colour to the game. Coloured Taylor Ace Bowls now make up 95% of our sales with only 5% being black similar numbers with Henselite Tiger Bowls. Most clubs have now got club polo tops again bringing a bit of colour to the game. Most of the manufacturers have now introduced coloured shoes like the Aero Nirvana Shoes, Henselite HM75 shoe or Drakes Pride Vesta Shoes and therefore should associations should all get on board and allow these shows in ALL competitions? Trousers are also moving away from plain grey to trousers like the Henselite Sports Trousers and more colours will surely come.
Having played bowls for 38 years from a young boy at 12 years old to being 50 next year (Hard to believe it I know) I have seen the huge growth from the late 1980's into the 1990's and now the steep decline in members. All clubs remain the same, most clubs rely on around 12 members to run the place and another 20/30 odd who support the bar/functions week in week out. We then see a huge surge during the season where we see members for 6 months and then never see them again. Virtually every club is the same. So take it on yourself to support bowls and your club. Can I do more for the club, can I visit the club more? Little steps like this along with getting schools and new members into the club with keep the game going for many more year to come.
These are the views of Colin Bain proprietor of David Gourlay Bowls