Old men in blazers with old fashioned views. A place where you go for funerals and 40th – 60th birthday parties. A place with drink prices and attitudes stuck in the past. If I’m honest, that’s how I perceived bowling clubs. Not a place that an, ahem , young hip and progressive person like me would go.
But maybe it’s my Presbyterian roots, but something about the discipline, tradition and the seeming simplicity of Lawn Bowls had always intrigued me
So, when Woodend Bowling Club and Bowls Scotland invited myself and some other Team14 members (including women and children!!) along to help promote the sport ahead of the Commonwealth Games, I thought, hell, I am now the wrong side of 40. It’s about time I took up a sport more befitting my age (I’ll hopefully be running well into my seventies, health permitting)
But, it wasn’t only that. Woodend Bowling Club were tweeting. They were funny, engaging and had pictures of kids having fun. This was not a Bowling Club like any I had visited before. And the introduction to bowling was more fun than I would ever have imagined.
We were met by Tom, who introduced us to our coach Ron of Team Scotland. We were given quick and concise instructions on how to hold and then release the bowl. To my horror, my week of practising lunges was in vain, as Tom explained how bowling required only small and controlled movements.
We were then let loose on the Crazy Bowling course, a range of fun obstacles, designed to develop skills and which had introduced bowls to over 1,000 children in the area. Was this REALLY a bowling club? Even little 4 year old Reese was having a ball, or should that be bowl?
Once we had honed our skills, it was match time. Now, some might say I’m a tad competitive, so when it came to picking teams, I quickly partnered with Paula, who has taken part in 17 Commonwealth Games sports. She would make up for my general sporting ineptitude. However, I forgot why Paula had set herself the challenge of trying the sports of Glasgow 2014. She’s as bad at sports as I am!
Thankfully, we had Louise, a 14 year old super kid, come to our rescue and we trounced (maybe a little exaggeration) Louise’s dad and @glasgowdaybyday and @buteifulbute in the last end. Bowling may have modernised, but I am not sure if my subsequent victory dance, fist pumping and hollering are now part of everyday matches.
It was a great night and as it progressed, I really felt I was improving. It’s a relatively quick game to learn the basics. I was obviously not alone, in thinking I had potential, as Ron had some inspiring words.
Bowling really is a sport that almost all can try and as a physical activity advocate, I noted that we were too busy having fun and focusing on the game, to notice that we were constantly moving, bending and lifting. Bowls Scotland are launching a Try Bowls campaign, and as a try athlete, I’d urge you to seek out your local club, take along your kids and find out just why, all these years, old smart men in blazers, were trying to keep it to themselves.