A Golden Opportunity to boost participation

22nd November, 2021 by Rob Short

At its recent meeting, the Bowls England board has agreed a five-point plan to boost participation levels in lawn bowls during the home Commonwealth Games year.  Building on its new 2021-26 strategy, Fit for the Future, the plan will take advantage of the golden opportunity of Birmingham 2022 by making lawn bowls more attractive and accessible to those we know are interested in playing our sport in the future.

Consistent with our long-term financial projections, and buoyed by a better-than-expected financial position in 2020/21, the Bowls England board has committed to drawn down on £350k of its reserves to support these projects.

 

  1. Develop a national Pay and Play Platform for lawn bowls – this will enable prospective players to find and access bowls clubs in the way that complements their needs, make it easy for clubs to manage this demand and maximize spare green capacity. It will grow the numbers of people playing our sport and improve the financial sustainability of clubs involved.

 

  1. Develop a new, introductory game format aimed at new bowlers – this will ensure new bowlers have a great experience and are retained in our sport. Precedence in other sports, experience from other bowls nations and our insight tells us our growth will come from people playing more casually.  We know that some of these people will go on to play more competitively.

 

  1. Develop a portable ‘have-a-go’ experience taking lawn bowls to non-bowls environments – this will make it easy for people to try lawn bowls in places of high footfall. Having had a taste of the sport, we will signpost people to local clubs to continue their journey in the sport.

 

  1. Deliver an improved Bowls Big Weekend in May 2022 – building on the successes and learnings of the inaugural event, we will kick-start the Commonwealth Games summer in style. Clubs will open their doors to give people taster sessions, showcase the social atmosphere and get them hooked our sport.

 

  1. Execute a participation marketing campaign around and during Birmingham 2022 – capitalizing on the additional exposure lawn bowls will receive in this period and hopefully some England success on the Victoria Park greens, we will deliver an exciting campaign to encourage people to play and watch our sport.

 

We will be discussing these projects with County Associations and key partners at our forthcoming County Conference.  We will be scoping and planning them through the rest of 2021 and plan to be in a position to engage our 2000 affiliated clubs with the various opportunities in January 2022.  We would like each club 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.

Chief Executive, Jon Cockcroft said, “during my time in hockey, the impact of a home Olympics in 2012 was huge and it is imperative we take advantage of the platform of the platform of Birmingham 2022.  We have an ambitious target to deliver 1m bowls experiences each year by 2026 and these five projects will help us make great strides in that endeavour.  Lawn bowls is such a doable, vitalizing and sociable sport, we look forward to working with counties, clubs and across the bowls codes to enlighten more people of its great qualities and embrace them within our bowls community.”

Also in the meeting, the Bowls England board reflected on the last few months of the 2020/21 operational year.  The board paid tribute to the staff team for the delivery of the National Finals amidst the challenges of Covid 19, and it fed back some improvements, including the better administration of travel expenses, as we look to build on the changes made this year.

Discussions were had around late affiliation payments, the 2022 competition programme and the Disciplinary Working Party and it was agreed to pick these up as part of the Counties Conference in November.  It was also noted positively that a meeting had taken place with EBCS and the board reiterated its desire for constructive talks about working more collaboratively.

All affiliated clubs who completed their online forms earlier this year have been emailed about nominating a Birmingham 2022 Activator. If you’d like to be that person at your club, talk to your committee & put yourself forward before Friday 7th January.

You can find the full minutes of this meeting here.

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