Excitement is building as we reach 100 days to the start of only the third Commonwealth Games to be staged on home soil. Birmingham 2022 provides our sport with a golden opportunity to tell its story, to inspire new participants, to galvanise volunteers and to make existing bowlers feel deeply proud.
Bowls England is delighted to announce that its plan to leverage the platform of a home Games has received a significant boost with a £225,000 grant from Sport England. This support will allow us to go further in the promotion of our sport to a broader audience and with initiatives to get bowls into the hands of new participants this season.
Work is already underway to ensure we enjoy a momentous summer for lawn bowls. A substantial number of affiliated clubs are hosting open days as part of Bowls’ Big Weekend at the end of May and we are working alongside hundreds of clubs to inspire newcomers to get involved in bowls when the spotlight shines on Victoria Park in July.
“We are delighted that Sport England has chosen to invest in the initiatives we are delivering to grow participation,” said Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft. “Building on its intrinsic qualities, we are evolving the way bowls can be enjoyed to complement modern lifestyles and tackle deep-rooted inequality in sports activity. This support allows us to go further and faster this summer as we bring our Fit for the Future strategy alive.”
In collaboration with the Bowls Development Alliance, other bowls codes, 35 County Associations and our network of clubs, the additional investment from Sport England will be channelled into grassroots bowls:
• Increasing national and local marketing and PR activity to attract new bowlers to our sport.
• Providing our affiliated clubs with heavily subsidized resources to deliver our new, casual form of the game.
• Creating a national pay and play platform to attract new bowlers and make it easy for clubs to drive revenue from spare rink space.
• Developing experiential opportunities for people to try bowls within their own communities.
• Offering additional education and support to Birmingham 2022 club activators and other club volunteers.
“We are delighted to be supporting lawn bowls with its plans to capitalise on Birmingham 2022,” added Phil Smith, Director of Partnerships at Sport England. ”We believe lawn bowls can play an important role in tackling inequalities in sports participation and we look forward to seeing our investment help broaden accessibility to the sport.”
This investment is on top of a £190,000 commitment the Bowls England board has already made to take advantage of the home Commonwealth Games. This is one part of our Fit for the Future strategy, which is aimed at inspiring more people playing our great sport and includes building the brand of bowls, making our sport more accessible and supporting our communities. The aim is for 1m people to experience bowls each year by 2026.
Thank-you to all of the fantastic club volunteers who are engaged with our 2022 programme, notably our Birmingham 2022 Activators and those who have registered events for Bowls’ Big Weekend. It’s in affiliated bowls clubs’ interest to register a Birmingham 2022 Activator to be the point of contact for these projects. This could be an existing committee member or an opportunity for clubs to engage new volunteers. If you’re affiliated club is yet to register a Birmingham 2022 Activator, click here.
We’re also running a host of webinars to support affiliated clubs to increase participation this season, click here for more details and to register.
You can find past webinars on the Bowls England website here.
We hope that existing bowlers reading this will all do their bit to encourage their non-bowling friends, family or colleagues to give their sport a try.
Here’s to a memorable summer for lawn bowls.