Ed Morris only got hooked on bowls by chance at the end of primary school – but now the former national singles champion is hoping to get more people involved in the sport he fell in love with, writes Sportsbeat's James Reid.
Speaking ahead of Bowls’ Big Weekend on May 27-29, Morris is hellbent on highlighting the inclusive nature of the sport that has something on offer for everyone.
The Essex bowler will be part of the England team at the European Championships in Scotland this summer before the sport takes centre stage at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, something he hopes will help raise the profile of the game he nearly never started playing.
“When I was in year seven, just before the summer holidays, they came into our assembly, spoke to us and encouraged us to give it a go,” said Morris.
“I wasn’t keen at first but my best friend wanted someone to go with so I thought to tag along and I loved it straight away, he only lasted one year but I am still playing 24 years on.
𝗕𝗢𝗪𝗟𝗦❜ 𝗕𝗜𝗚 𝗪𝗘𝗘𝗞𝗘𝗡𝗗
It's your club's last chance to register your Bowls' Big Weekend event to receive your resource pack in time 📦
Registrations must be in by 12:00pm on Wed 11th May to get a resource pack ⚡
All the info you need 🔻https://t.co/mFXZzSzzRU pic.twitter.com/rGScSYijN4
— Bowls England (@BowlsEngland) May 9, 2022
“There is a stigma of bowls being just for old people and I always tell everyone that bowls is an inclusive sport, it can be played by anyone of all ages and mobilities.
“From a club point of view, we will be using the Commonwealth Games as a point for advertising because it’s a huge sporting event that is only played every four years.
“The bowls will be outdoors which is great because there is much more of an atmosphere. So hopefully people will watch and think let’s give it a go!”
Bowls’ Big Weekend is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the sport casually together, with over 750 clubs up and down England hosting free, accessible events.
Morris added: “It is really as simple as searching for your local club and getting down there and getting stuck in!
“With it being Bowls’ Big Weekend, we hope that people will feel less nervous about going into their club because there will be lots of other people doing the same thing but people can do it any time.
— Bowls England (@BowlsEngland) May 20, 2022
“I think almost every club has the equipment and infrastructure, we just need people to turn up, give it a go and use it.
“I play for the Essex County Bowls Club and we are a large club, it’s got to be one of the very largest outdoors in the country and we also have an indoor green so we can go all year round.
“I always tell everyone who comes through the door that only 10 to 15 per cent of our members are competitive and the rest are just here for the community aspect which involves seeing people, making friends and having fun.
“The club plays a vital role in our community because it is a very tight-knit place and members who have lost loved ones use bowls as an escape and a lifeline to help them cope.”
Morris joined the England Performance Squad two years ago and is part of a strong team hoping to win medals at the European Champions in Ayr, but knows there is only so much preparation you can do ahead of a big tournament.
There's plenty of chances to try your hand at an exciting Commonwealth Games sport for free as part of the Bowls Big Weekend next week, 27 - 29 May 2022.
Find out more and book your free session at https://t.co/VOXBv6FuS7 pic.twitter.com/mpOORZIko7
— Warwick District Council (@Warwick_DC) May 20, 2022
“I’d hope that my chances are fairly good as it’s being played in Ayr and we competed there last year so we are acclimatised to that surface,” added Morris.
“In all honesty, it’s not that different playing from green to green, it’s literally just going out there and playing.
“Up until the European Championships which start in July, it will just be playing at our local county clubs trying to get through to the nationals later on in the year, so everyone will be fully engaged.
“We are going to meet up at Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club, the traditional home of English Bowls, and we are going to have a weekend of games with the Commonwealth Games team.
“It will help build up some rapport and understand each other’s games better because we have all competed against each other at national level, but never as a team.”
Find your nearest participating club at http://www.bowlsbigweekend.com