Young bowlers joy at sport grant
For too long, crown green bowls has suffered from being perceived as an old man's sport.
But a Shropshire bowls league now hopes to smash that stereotype with the help of a grant from Sport England to develop the game among teenagers.
The Mid Shropshire League has received the £7,145 boost after officials became concerned at the decline in the number of young people taking up the sport.
The cash will be used to buy five sets of junior bowls coaching equipment, including smaller bowls that youngsters can hold more easily, for qualified coaches to use in sessions at clubs and crown greens all over Shropshire.
The Shropshire Junior Bowls Development Project hopes to attract more members aged 14-18 by using more attractive equipment, and creating links with schools.
The project was launched following meetings between league officials and county sports partnership, Energize.
League secretary Malcolm Fletcher said: “It is a national first for our sport of crown green bowls, and we are eager to shout it from the rooftops. We don’t want to see the sport retreat into the shadows any further.
“In these days of getting more people more active and healthy – and youngsters
away from computer screens and mobile devices, we are certain that bowls can play an important role.”
Joe Lockley of Energize added: “When we first met up, the league was clearly tired of being told by clubs that they could not attract new members because crown green bowls was seen as an old man’s game."
The league launched an after school bowls club for primary age pupils at Hadley Learning Community in Telford, which has Charlton Bowling Club’s green inside its campus.
A previous bid for funding was rejected in April this year, but after a number of changes – including the league changing its constitution – it was finally accepted.
The junior bowls training scheme will be overseen by qualified coach Pauline Wilson, who takes over as Shropshire Crown Green Bowls Association development officer next year.