Following a positive two-day Counties Conference at Loughborough University, Bowls England can announce a number of immediate actions. After discussion, a significant majority of county representatives wished to see the draw for the National Finals to be fully open, meaning counties with two qualifiers may draw each other in the first round of competition at Royal Leamington Spa. Currently qualifiers from the same county are in opposite halves of the draw. Alongside this, counties wished to see the badge presentation, removed from the Finals schedule in 2021 due to COVID challenges, return for 2022 for those competitors who opt to receive this recognition.
The conference, entitled A Golden Opportunity and held last Friday and Saturday, gave County Representatives the chance to meet with the Bowls England board, staff and other key stakeholders in our sport to discuss a number of areas, including National Championships, affiliation, communication and plans for 2022.
Unlike previous Counties meetings, the onus was much more on discussion and contributions from county representatives. The delegates shared their views on a host of topics across the two days, and we are now collating the input we received to be taken forward.
On Friday, the county representatives nominated a number of topics they wished to discuss with Bowls England. These were:
- National Championships, Competitions & Finals
- County & Bowls England communication
These topics engendered a fantastic discussion in the room, with delegates entering into the spirit of collaboration. The need to work together to achieve goals was clear, and there were a number of suggestions on how best to ensure that the relationship between Bowls England and the County Associations is strengthened.
In the evening, following a meal and a quiz, David Tucker, Chair of Bowls England, gave a speech to the delegates, and you can read the transcript here.
On Saturday, Bowls England Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft, alongside members of the staff team, outlined our plans for 2022 to capitalize on the opportunity of a home Commonwealth Games.
In line with our strategy Fit For The Future, and recently announced plans to grow participation, delegates inputted some fantastic ideas across a number of areas;
- How to build the brand of bowls;
- Making bowls truly accessible;
- Creating positive playing experiences;
- Supporting our communities.
The conference ended with an update from Performance Director John McGuinness, who spoke passionately about the England squad’s preparations, reasons for supporting the national team, and how they can be a vehicle for good for the whole sport. A successful Games in 2022 will help get our sport in the limelight, and more people into clubs, on to greens and enjoying our wonderful sport.
Chief Executive, Jon Cockcroft, said “we had a brilliant two days in Loughborough with our County Associations and key partners. We were keen for this to be an opportunity for the representatives to get their point of view across to us in a constructive manner and we’ll use the feedback to positively inform our work moving forward.
With the incredible opportunity of Birmingham 2022 on the horizon, we hope that delegates will now return to their counties feeling excited to make the most of it. It’s now critical that we all work together to help our sport grab the Golden Opportunity of 2022 with both hands.”