Unlike a lot of sports, bowls truly caters for everyone – anyone can play at any age regardless of skill, age or gender. Bowls, it has to be said, has however suffered with the stigma that is only for older people, which simply isn’t true. One of the sport’s USPs is that older men and women – who may have lost their fitness but not their competitive edge – can compete and play together, but there’s nothing stopping younger people getting involved too.
Marown Bowling Club, based on the Isle of Man and one of our affiliated clubs, celebrates its 50th anniversary in May. We dispatched new hoodies, shirts and jackets to the club last week, and to mark the upcoming anniversary as well as the arrival of their new kit we spoke to Phil Kelly all about the club, the recent challenges, and their proactive attempts to woo younger participants.
KUDOS: Can you tell us a little bit about the club and its history?
Phil: Marown and District Bowling Club was found in 1969 and the green developed over the next two years on the Marown Playing Fields site. It was official opened on 1st May 1971 (which makes it 50 years on 1st May 2021!).
How has the club dealt with the challenges of covid-19 this year?
We have teams in each of the leagues on the island, Night League, Men and Women, and an over 60s league for men and women. Next year will be the first year that we will have a men’s D team and the Ladies B team in the night league.
On the Isle of Man we have been really lucky to be up and running with our bowls as early as May 2020, although it was only a single player on the green. By July we were fully up and running again, having cancelled our leagues, but played all our Cup games and various Open Competitions – mainly thanks to the Government and the way they dealt with Covid-19 on the Isle of Man.
We love bowls, but it’s fair to say it sometimes suffers with the stigma that it’s a sport for the more mature person. There’s no reason for that to be the case, with it being such an inclusive, accessible and fun sport to play. Do you have many younger members, and if not what do you think can be done to attract more younger people?
The stigma for bowls has really changed over the years, with a lot more work going in to encouraging younger members and also juniors. We are lucky in the Isle of Man – a lot of sport is played here and we have joined forces with our Government’s sport department – Isle of Man Sport – and put on regular sessions during the summer with juniors with a greater emphasis put into the fun side of bowls.
For around 8 years now we have been holding sessions called Manx Youth Games, starting indoors in January then going outdoors in March, with a final day where all the clubs running these sessions join together for a final day. We’ve had over 500 children doing these sessions in the last 8 years. We have also seen a niche develop in the 40 and overs age group, where many people finish more active sports (football, rugby etc) and clubs run session encouraging more of these people to take up bowls.
We passionately believe in the notion that being a member of a sports club or society can help in ways above and beyond just the playing of the sport or activity itself. Do you see examples of that being the case?
Bowls has a very social side to it, especially in the juniors and older age groups. The main thing I have seen is in the Junior side, where ‘like school’ boys don’t talk to girls and vice versa, but after a couple of session of interaction they can’t stop talking to each other. On the adult side, it’s naturally a friendly sport but people take that friendship off the green. Social media has really helped with being able to keep in touch with each other.
It’s the club’s 50th anniversary next May – how will the club be celebrating?
A great celebration will be held on Saturday 1st May 2021 to open our new clubhouse. We will have the opening on the Friday night and a major Island competition on the Saturday. This will celebrate 50th of Marown Bowling with everyone wearing their new KUDOS shirts!
And last but not least – what do you love about your club and how would you try and sell the idea of joining to someone who might be thinking about it?
Marown is situated in the middle of the Isle of Man, it’s more than just a commmuty club. The friendly atmosphere and hard working club members make this an amazing club for play for, we have been lucky enough to win a few trophies over the years – from the men’s and ladies team through to our juniors – but the main thing is the friendship you get from our members, and long may this continue!
Thanks so much to Phil for taking the time to talk to us! If you’re interested in getting involved at the club, you can find them on Facebook. The very best of luck from everyone at KUDOS for the rest of the year and beyond!
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