Bowls England’s 2021-26 Strategy ‘Fit for the Future’ frames a new and exciting course for our sport.
One of the core priorities underpinning the Strategy is a determination to create positive playing experiences for everyone who steps on the green regardless of age, gender or ability. Providing the right competitions at the appropriate level is fundamental to this, and we have therefore committed to undertake a review of our domestic competitions.
Whilst we know competitions are popular within our membership, we are also acutely aware of a number of challenges, for example the continued decline in entry numbers (particularly in women’s events), the latter stages being dominated by a reducing pool of players and age bands at junior and senior level that may not be conducive to encouraging participation.
We received considerable interest from players and administrators who wished to join the Competitions Working Party. The final group is formed of a cross section of our community – players/umpires and administrators – with representation across the regions, age groups and gender. The group is chaired by Margaret Docherty, Director of Competitive Events, and had its first meeting recently.
The Working Party consists of: Mick Leafe (Nottinghamshire); Simon Lilley (Lincolnshire); Chris Rodgers (Leicestershire); Andrew Richardson (Surrey); Ian Gauld (Gloucestershire); Matt Hyde (Buckinghamshire); Rodney Clark (Kent); Bernie Hill (Yorkshire) and Rachel Proctor (Northumberland).
Each member of the working party brings relevant experience, both through their involvement with the sport and their professional background. The Bowls England staff team is providing support to the group. Given the level of interest in the group, all those who did put themselves forward will be invited to support the work of the group during its deliberations. A schedule of meetings is in place and at the first meeting the group considered the key principles that will assist with its decision-making and final recommendations.
The group will now focus on five core objectives:
- To have a competition structure that is valued by players and retains them in our sport
- To stimulate opportunities for participation among those who may not otherwise play
- To support international performance by providing an optimal environment to prepare players
- To support our Performance Pathway by stretching and inspiring our most talented young players
- To elevate the National Finals in the minds of all bowlers
A number of meetings are scheduled in the coming months, and a report will then be submitted to the Bowls England board, before being shared with County Associations.