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‘Bowls is Bowls’ - Positively Promoting the Sport of Bowls

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Northamptonshire-based 'Bowls is Bowls' is an organisation that has been established to encourage all bowls organisations, clubs and bowlers of all ages, creeds, colour and abilities to work together to promote all formats of bowls equally, in order to increase participation in the sport and membership of clubs and associations.

It is the brainchild of 'Boul Trader Limited' Chief Executive, Mark Courtney, himself a keen bowler since childhood and a Level 1 Coach Bowls Coach, member of Bowls Northamptonshire and Bowls England.

'Bowls is Bowls' was officially launched in September 2019 at one of bowl's many "hidden gems", Daventry Indoor Bowls Club in the heart of the Shires and the birthplace of "Daventry Calling", by the award-winning presenter Simon Ricketts, the English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) Chief Executive Peter Thompson and President Alison Welsted, along with three top International bowlers:

  • Scottish bowling world-record breaking legend, Alex 'Tattie' Marshall MBE
  • Legendary medal-winning member of England's Commonwealth Games bowls team, David Bolt ('Bolty', "BOLT BOWLS")
  • Ed Sawbridge, the No 1. ranked player on the Short Mat Players Tour

The 'Bowls is Bowls' launch provided a clear emphasis about its intention to bring all forms of Bowls at all levels and formats together to help promote the sport, demonstrating the openness and limitless opportunities for the sport to reach out into communities, via hospitals, care home facilities, youth clubs and other related areas.

The launch was also supported by local Conservative Party MP for Daventry, Chris Heaton-Harris Daventry District Councillor Alan Hills, Community, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder and Councillor Chris Millar, the leader of Daventry District Council.

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Daventry Visit

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Over the last week I have had the pleasure of following up some previous development work that I was involved in last year down in Daventry, Northampton.

My first visit will always be a special one as it enabled me to learn how effective club visits can be and how I could help with information based on my own experience to potentially aid recruitment and identify pitfalls that could hinder the progress of the club.

I also started to understand my own value as I was not always comfortable with attention from not only current players but also from visitors who had attended the event just to talk to me about my experiences and success within the sport. The interaction and positive response opened my eyes to how important my role is not just in the competitive element but also in giving something back to bowls which could be as simple as a little bit of my time.

I will always be thankful for the opportunity I had to do this as it certainly helped me to achieve what is now my current role of Northern Bowls Development Officer for the Bowls Development Alliance. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a club who are currently struggling to increase membership and to see the benefits I can bring throughout the program. I would highly recommend any club who have lost more than 3% membership over the last 2 years to visit www.playbowls.org for advice and funding assistance. So on to my activities during the week commencing 9th Sept 2019:

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Perception of Bowls

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Having been involved in the sport for 31 years now I achieved what I believe is the pinnacle of my ambitions last year at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. To receive that piece of paper advising I had made the team was potentially the best letter I will ever open and to bring a medal home topped it off.

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the opening ceremony and walking out with Team England in front of thousands of spectators and being waved at from the seats by Prince Charles and Camilla. It was also quite surreal stepping into a lift in the Athletes Village with the likes of Dina Asher Smith, the Brownlee Brothers and Tom Daley to name a few and also reaffirmed my belief that our sport stands tall with any in the world so it is a huge frustration that it is burdened with such a poor stigma from those outside of bowls.

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