The past couple of weeks has seen a significant increase in enquiries from individual members and Clubs who are keen to get back on the green. I am sure this has been heightened by media reports suggesting that the current restrictions may be eased as early as next week.
The questions that the staff team have been receiving have fallen into three main categories – when can we start to play bowls, what restrictions will be in place and what can we do to make our club ‘safe’?
In response to all three questions, Bowls England’s stance remains that Government guidance must be followed and, at this stage, any views on what the future might look like are purely speculative. However, that is not to say that we are resting on our laurels.
Interest in the resumption of ‘non-contact’ sporting activity increased when the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden, was questioned during a Commons Select Committee on the likelihood of sports such as bowls, fishing and golf being given the ‘green light’ to restart.
In his answer, Mr Dowden made it clear that whilst he was keen to see restrictions eased, he would only make the case to the Prime Minister for the opening of any sports clubs once public health evidence allowed. Bowls England has therefore been in direct contact with DCMS officials to offer our assistance when any potential restart is considered.
We are also preparing guidance for Clubs and County Associations, which we will issue at the correct time in accordance with Government guidance.
More importantly, today I am pleased to launch our ‘Covid-19 Club Survey’.
Our initial focus since the crisis began has been in providing urgent assistance to clubs in need, particularly with regard to funding and greens maintenance.
Indeed, with clubs facing a period where there is the loss of regular income but overheads and bills still need to be paid, I was delighted to hear that so many of our affiliated clubs have benefitted from the Sport England Emergency Community Fund to date – the total awarded to bowls currently stands at more than £500,000.
Now we want to understand in more detail what the future looks like, and in particular where we as a national body can have the greatest impact in supporting our clubs going forward and we can only do this with your assistance.
The Covid-19 Club Survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and we would ask that only one response per club is given. The results from this survey will help to shape our future plans, so please take just a few minutes in order to help us to help you.
The survey can be completed at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BE-Club-Survey
Finally, on the eve of national events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, never has the title of Dame Vera Lynn’s most celebrated song, “We’ll meet again”, seemed more appropriate.
I hope, like me, you will all take a few moments at 11am tomorrow to pause for a Two Minute Silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation, and later in the evening look forward to brighter times ahead with the nationwide ‘sing-a-long’ at 9pm.
Enjoy your Bank Holiday at home.