Arbroath Bowls Hub Club Story
Across Scotland, bowling clubs engage with their local communities to introduce people of all ages to our wonderful sport. Founded in 2015, the Arbroath Bowls Hub is made up Abbey BC, Arbroath BC and Arbroath Indoor who work together with the local Active Schools and Community Sports Hubs groups to bring bowling opportunities to school children in the area.
We spoke to some of those involved to find out more about this collaborative community initiative…
Ross Taylor, Community Sports Hub Coordinator for Angus Alive, told us more about how the Hub started and the volunteers involved in running sessions:
“The bowls hub was established in 2015 to help support the local bowls clubs in Arbroath work together and provide opportunities for school children to participate in bowls across school and club sites. It was quite evident that the local bowling clubs had a cohort of volunteers and a shared vision of growing the game and it made sense to start to link the clubs together for further partnership opportunities. Supported by Awards For All funding, they launched a programme of bowls activity across the cluster and never looked back. They were always willing to help each other out and all the volunteers wanted to be part of the school tasters and sessions where possible so it made sense!
“Active Schools and Community sport hub coordinators are working closely together to explore training opportunities, funding opportunities and general club support to continue growing hub clubs’ memberships over the years. This sees a bi-monthly hub meeting take place, where we set outcomes and work to progress the delivery, impact and story-telling of the bowls activity we are seeing across the town. We support the volunteers with any of their needs as well.”
David McLeish and Kelly Moonlight, Active School Coordinators further explained:
“Curricular/extra-curricular sessions are open to pupils from the primary and secondary schools in Arbroath. Largely the focus has been Primary based with P4 upwards. The Bowls community sport hub is made up of volunteers from Arbroath BC, Abbey BC and the Arbroath indoor BC currently. We are looking to join the volunteer resources across all clubs to create one bowls volunteer workforce in the town to help ensure bowls is an opportunity for all the pupils across Arbroath.”
Graham Haxton is a Level 1 qualified coach from Arbroath Bowling Club and has been involved in the Bowls Hub since 2021. He told us about the importance of making bowls more accessible to the community…
“I only joined the Hub in 2021 but Arbroath BC has been engaged from the beginning with Dave Nicholson and Jake Napier involved from our club. Volunteers had primary school children visit the club in the winter months to introduce them to carpet bowls. In the summer months they were then given the opportunity to try it outdoors.
“Like everything else COVID had a major impact on the Hub and last year was the first time schools visits restarted. In 2022 we managed to gain an extra 11 junior members from these visits. They all attended on Saturday mornings throughout the outdoor season. 6 of them came to coaching initially at Arbroath Indoor and 2 of them have hardly missed a session! If we can gain another 11 junior members this year it will help bowls in the long term.
“The benefits of introducing youngsters to bowls is in giving them another outlet for their abilities. It does not have to be the best football, netball or hockey players that excel at bowls. It gives the youngsters who are maybe not seen as being athletic an opportunity to compete on level terms with those that are. The Arbroath Bowls Hub has provided an opportunity for our club to introduce more youngsters to bowls who would perhaps never have tried it in their lifetime. It gained us 11 new junior members last year and hopefully more to come this year.
“The best part of volunteering is seeing the enjoyment the youngsters get when they play a good shot, and the improvements from both young and old.”
Ali Burnett is a coach at Abbey BC and also Bowls Scotland’s District Youth Coordinator for District 5. Ali told us about his involvement in the Hub and why he feels it is important for clubs to work together to grow the sport of bowls in Scotland…
“Most people who have come to try bowling have found it to be really enjoyable and fun. We have obstacles and other games they can try on fun days. We try to encourage them to have fun and they also meet new friends.
“The three clubs in Arbroath always try to work together with the aim of improving the sport, we have rivalry between the clubs, but everyone wants to make the sport as interesting and enjoyable as they can.
"We get the schools down to our greens once a week in the summer and go to schools in the winter for carpet bowls etc. We have 3 coaches at the moment who look after everything and also a couple of volunteers support the Hub.”
A fantastic story of a local authority area supporting clubs through a bowls specific programme. With the recent change within the delivery of National Development Officer support, and support now aligned to clubs within each local authority, Bowls Scotland’s Development Team will be looking to work with clubs and local authorities, in partnership, to establish Bowls Forums and Workshops in each area. One of the first major implementations will be recruiting of a minimum of Eight Try Bowls Activators (TBA’s) to provide support for membership recruitment for registered Try Bowls Clubs. Thanks to Abbey BC, Arbroath BC and Angus Community Sports Hub for sharing their story with us, we look forward to seeing what comes next for the cluster.