At its March meeting, the Bowls England Board discussed the recent World Bowls Review and, as the second biggest bowls nation in the world, is fully committed to working with World Bowls to drive the sport forwards. Having not hosted an outdoor world level event since 1996, the Board has ambition to bring world-level events to England in order to increase the visibility of the sport and inspire new people to play bowls. This strategic shift, outlined in Bowls England’s ‘Fit for the Future’ strategy, has been given a boost as the 2027 Bowls World Championships is now considered a strategic hosting target by UK Sport within its Pinnacle Programme 2025-29. The Board also showed its support for World Bowls’ key recommendation to develop a new, global broadcast product for bowls as a solution to raising the profile of our sport.
Also at the meeting the Board reflected on the AGM and Annual Awards Event that took place in Leicester in February. There was consensus on the positive impact the event had for those who attended and how it complemented the Board’s desire to ensure Bowls England is relevant for all members of the bowls community. Following the vote at the AGM, discussions took place around the return of an annual dinner, now to be called the Champions Dinner, to celebrate the National Finals players and re-present the trophies. Venues and dates have now been confirmed for both these events.
The other major item was an update on the Casual Form of the Game project. The board were updated on the rules of the game, the plans to trial it and the engagement of a creative brand agency.
The Chief Executive presented an Operational Update of activity since the previous meeting and a number of areas were discussed. Noteworthy points are as follows –
- The Sport England Birmingham 2022 funding submission was shared with the Board with an outcome due towards the end of March.
- Good progress has been made with the Pay and Play Platform following the engagement of a digital agency, Yellow Panther, to build the site. Over 200 Club Activators have attended briefing sessions to explain how to maximize the platform.
- Over 400 Clubs (the number as of 10 May is 804) have signed up Bowls’ Big Weekend and a programme of webinars is planned to help clubs run their event.
- Player entries for championships and competitions had closed over target. Men’s Championships entries had increased by 867 from 2021 and the Women’s Championships increased by 353. This bodes well as the sport endeavours to bounce back from the global pandemic.
- A discussion took place on the Regional Finals and the importance of a Bowls England representative attending each event.
- An update on Home Nations competitions took place with an agreement on the interim 2022 programme.
- A positive meeting took place with the BBC to discuss opportunities for bowls to receive more profile on the back of the Commonwealth Games.
- The time taken to manage safeguarding and disciplinary work is an increasing challenge. The board discussed the impact of this and solutions in terms of deprioritising some work streams until the end of the Commonwealth Games and bringing in additional resource to support.
The Bowls England Board will be out and about within the bowls community over the summer. Whether it be at the Bowls’ Big Weekend, Celebration Match, Regional Final or the National Finals, Board members would be eager to hear your thoughts about how we collectively take our sport forwards. A list of board members can be found here; Our Board – Bowls England