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Why bowls is not just for retirees, as a new generation take up the woods

Michael Ross Williams, aged 40 and a half, is proving bowls isn't just for the older generation <i>(Image: Michael Ross Williams)</i>
Michael Ross Williams, aged 40 and a half, is proving bowls isn't just for the older generation (Image: Michael Ross Williams)

Although bowls may often be considered a sport for retirees, a new generation of bowlers have been discovering the sport in recent years – and they’re nowhere near close to getting their free bus pass.

Here Michael Ross Williams – a Helston bowler, aged 40 and a half – explains why bowls is so much more, and how you can try it out at free sessions later this month.

When you picture lawn bowls what do you see? A pristine green? Blue sky and sun? Maybe scattered spectators dozing on benches and the odd ripple of polite applause.

Whether or not you picture the aforementioned, the one thing I think 90 per cent of you would have pictured is older players. Genteel silver-haired men and women passing the time, gently rolling their woods across the green. I am here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong!

Bowls may traditionally be the sport of the older generation - one enjoyed by countless retirees across the nation - but it is also a young person’s game. As we head towards the summer and the start of the outdoor season, Helston Bowling Club is keen to point out that all ages are welcome.

As with every organised sport, new members are the life blood to keep things going and the club, which was founded in 1760 and boasts one of the oldest greens in the United Kingdom, is keen to attract them, from a young age.

One initiative is being headed up by former chairman and now ‘new bowler co-ordinator’ Ian Wass. Ian has been coaching pupils from year five and six at Garras Primary School on a regular basis and saw his budding bowlers compete at the county school games, a competition they will return to this year.

Ian said: “We hope to see the youngsters continue to improve and turn in to fine adult players who can not only represent the club but potentially the county or even the country at World Championships and Commonwealth Games.”

Falmouth Packet: Michael has his own set of 'Proper Job Disco' branded bowls
Falmouth Packet: Michael has his own set of 'Proper Job Disco' branded bowls

Michael has his own set of 'Proper Job Disco' branded bowls (Image: Michael Ross Williams)

It is true that starting at a young age has a fantastic advantage and make for some of the country’s best players.

At the recent Indoor World Championships the winner of the ladies singles was Katherine Rednall. Katherine has won the gold seven times in the last ten years and is still only 28 years old!

One major issue is the stigma or stereotype that bowls is for the elderly, and whilst it is true that the game may not be as physically taxing as other sports, it still requires a certain level of fitness and a lot of tactics.

At Helston Bowling Club, along with its small youth section they do have several members who still work full time jobs and manage to fit in a game or a ‘roll up’ (the term used for practice).

As with other clubs across the county and further afield, Helston Bowling Club will host a series of free to attend ‘Have a Go!’ bowling sessions in April and May, which will culminate with the Bowls England (the national body for the sport) ‘Big Bowls Weekend’ event.

Falmouth Packet: Michael travels to different parts of Cornwall to compete
Falmouth Packet: Michael travels to different parts of Cornwall to compete

Michael travels to different parts of Cornwall to compete (Image: Michael Ross Williams)

As well as inviting anyone from the age of seven upwards to take to the green, the footpaths and area around the club, behind the Grylls Monument, will be festooned with stalls and attractions in a bid to get the wider public to see what fun bowls can be.

Stalls, especially produce, are still be sought and people are asked to contact the club’s Facebook page or email the event organiser proper.job.disco@gmail.com to book a pitch.

Bowls really is a game for everyone and anyone and can be enjoyed by all. Why not take a trip to the bottom of Helston for a ‘Have a Go!’ session. Its free of charge and all you need to attend is flat bottomed footwear.

The ‘Have a Go’ Sessions are:

Saturday, April 13, 11am – 1pm

Saturday, April 20, 11am – 1pm

Saturday, April 27, 11am – 1pm

Saturday, May 18, 11am – 1pm

Sunday, May 26 – Big Bowls Weekend, to include stalls and attractions, 10.30am – 4pm

  • For more information message Helston Bowling Club’s Facebook page or call new bowler co-ordinator Ian Wass on 01326 240563.