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England bowls star Sian Honnor urged everyone to flock to clubs after the success of the Bowls Big Weekend - but warned you will soon be hooked, writes Josh Graham.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games women’s triples gold medallist visited Bearsted & Thurnham Bowls Club in Kent to show off the sport in all its glory during a stunning Bank Holiday weekend.
Over 600 clubs signed up to the national weekend extravaganza with Bearsted & Thurnham hosting nearly 140 newcomers of all ages and physical ability.
And Honnor, 33, who is aiming to make the England side for the home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year, said: “Come down with an open mind. There’s not anyone that plays bowls who doesn't enjoy it, because once you start it is very easy to become hooked.
“It’s really easy to learn but very difficult to master so there’s that addictive element.
“It’s something that the whole family can play together. I’ve played since I was seven which is testament to just how good it is.’
Elisha Wilkins, 23, revealed she would instantly recommend bowls to her friends after trying the sport.
She said: “It has been a lot of fun but it’s also massively harder than it looks.
“I don’t think there’s any age limit; I will be recommending it to my friends, and we will definitely be back.”
Rosie Webster, 20, also had her view of the game changed thanks to the fun-filled day at the club.
She added: “Seeing the younger players that are always here has definitely changed my perception as I had thought it was for older people but there’s a nice community feel.”
New players were given free coaching and took part in several skills-based games across seven rinks on the artificial green at Bearsted & Thurnham.
Nick Dibble, 51, arrived with his father and the pair are set to register after being bowled over on the day.
“I know my dad sits at home not doing a lot and he’s not been well lately, so I’ve grabbed him down here to get him out and about and active.
“It’s a great sport - I think we will be joining up 100 per cent.”
And vice chair Cathy Hoskins, 53, who presides over the club’s 140 members including England under-18 international Josh Austin, revealed signing up won’t break the bank.
She said: “It’s £70 a year for adults and only £5 for kids, very affordable.
“You can play bowls every day and matches only last a couple of hours, but you can easily enjoy the whole day at the club.”
James Woolerton, who swapped cricket for bowls after becoming a dad, helps coach the juniors including son Dylan, nine, and revealed the calming nature of the game benefits kids.
The 37-year-old said: “It’s good for social skills; we’ve seen a big improvement in the attitude of some of the kids who have had coaching from us.
“Starting younger is a big advantage in bowls, a lot of our better bowlers are in the 20-40 age range.”
Find your nearest participating club at www.bowlsbigweekend.com