It was with great pride and humility that I took on the role of President of Bowls England earlier this year.
I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of so many illustrious presidents who have served the sport in the last 120 years. I must express my sincere thanks to outgoing President Terri Keen, who was an outstanding incumbent in a very challenging year. Having served as Junior Vice President for a year, I learned so much from her and her advice continues to be invaluable.
As a sport, we have both challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Like so many sports, there are challenges in terms of recruiting and retaining players, maintaining the required level of volunteers and facilities, and crucially in terms of level of funding from both local and national government. These obstacles are not unique to bowls by any means, and we require modern-day solutions to modern-day problems.
To that end, one of my goals as President is to deepen the working relationship between County Associations, Clubs and the governing body. We have seen many successes when we collectively work together, and in challenging times it is even more crucial our work goes hand in hand. Bowls England Chair David Tucker and Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft are working tirelessly on behalf of all of us in the sport.
The end of May sees our annual Bowls’ Big Weekend event which is a perfect example of Clubs and the governing body working together to grow the game. Bowls’ Big Weekend is a fantastic way to invite people into bowls, whether it’s for the first time or coming back after a time away. Thank you to all of the clubs who have signed up to take part.
All of us within the sport know just how passionate our players and volunteers are. I have recently been at a number of Celebration matches, and at those matches and during my travels as Junior VP last year, I have been very encouraged by the level of diversity among those playing the game. We have players from different ethnic backgrounds, different walks of life and across all age groups. This undoubtedly bodes well for the future and gives a platform from which to grow the game.
It is an honour and a privilege to be the first Indian President of Bowls England. I was born in Kenya to parents of Indian origin, and have spent most of my life in Leicester. I am hoping I can play a small part in increasing participation from different ethnic groups, and am very keen to bring our game to a wider community. We need players from all backgrounds, and diversity makes us even stronger.
Last year’s Commonwealth Games showcased bowls superbly well, and our own events such as the National Finals are the pinnacle of the game across the country. It is a dream and aspiration I share myself, and I know the event in Royal Leamington Spa this summer will be another occasion to remember. I also know our elite international players will give all they can at this year’s World Championships in Australia.
If I can leave a legacy behind, it is for us all to be open-minded, talk to our members, work together and with organisations for the common good – for bowls to continue to thrive.