Lossiemouth BC Club Story

Lossiemouth BC in District 2, recently welcomed 169 local schoolchildren to their club to try bowls. The sun shone as P4, 5, 6 and 7 pupils from the local primary visited the club to take part in fun activities and coaching as part of their end of term ‘health week.’

We spoke to Alan Smith, coach at Lossiemouth and District Youth Coordinator (DYC) for the area, to find out more about becoming a Try Bowls Club, forming links with the local schools and hosting this large amount of people in just one day. The Q&A below covers some brilliant ideas which we hope other clubs can learn from to introduce more children to our ‘Sport For All’ across Scotland…

Q: Why did Lossiemouth BC sign up for Try Bowls this year?

A: We are the only bowling club in a town of nearly 7000 people, with less than 100 playing and social members. With such a captive audience on our doorstep, it makes sense to use the resources and advice available from Bowls Scotland, as well as drawing on the experiences from clubs across the country to address this issue. After the DC and DYC meeting at Whitburn BC at the start of April, when NDO Stuart Bell gave an excellent presentation on the scheme and its benefits, signing up was an obvious step to take.

Q: How did the link with the school come about?

A: We are only a few hundred yards away from one of the two primary schools in the town, but being honest, historically the relationships have been sporadic at best. We have hosted a few of these days, for both schools, in the past few years and pre-COVID we did have a small but enthusiastic junior section as a result. As with a lot of clubs throughout Scotland, COVID has had a profound effect on junior bowls so it is almost like we are starting again. The link happened this time when Depute Head, Liz Wood, of St Gerardine School contacted me to ask if we could host the P4-7 group as part of the School’s “Health Week”. We didn’t hesitate in agreeing.

Q: What activities took place during the day?

A: We had 6 classes in total for 45 min sessions between 0900 and 1500. Each session comprised of an introduction to the club and myself, and then 5 mins of the pupils just rolling a bowl about the green with no instruction, and being asked to watch what happens depending on how they roll it, how they hold it etc. They were asked to compare rolling a bowl to their experience of rolling a football or a tennis ball. Then we came back together as a group and by asking leading questions, the children came up with all the pertinent points of the bowl and its characteristics.

We then split down into teams and after a quick demo on how to deliver the bowl had short, timed, competitive exercises rolling towards different targets with points awarded for success. Points were tallied between teams within the classes as well as for the whole class and the results were sent back to the school. This competitive edge to proceedings definitely helped the children remain engaged and excited for the duration of the session!!

Q: Who from the club volunteered to help with the event?

A: Myself, as Level 1 coach and DYC, Jutta Hewett as an Intro to Bowls Coach and several committee and other members. Around 10 of us in total.

Q: Did you get any feedback from pupils or the school?

A: Feedback on the day from the pupils and teachers was very positive and was followed up with an e-mail from the school’s Depute Head. I have also had feedback from several parents, most of whom I don’t know, all saying that their children loved the day and would love to come back.

I also received the following feedback from Liz Wood (Depute Head of the school) which was really encouraging: “This year we were lucky enough to be back at Lossiemouth Bowling Club as part of our annual school’s Health Week here at St Gerardine Primary. Due to covid restrictions it has been a while since we have been there and it is always a huge favourite amongst children and staff. This year certainly did not disappoint - the weather was beautiful, and we managed to get 6 full classes from P4-P7 down to the Club – this was a total of nearly 180 pupils! As always the children and staff were met with open arms and all the activities were set up ready for action. Feedback from staff was excellent with many enthused themselves to have another go at it! Comments from the children included, ‘I really enjoyed it and am hoping to sign up to do it.’, ‘It is a great sport, you should try it.’, ‘Bowling is now my new favourite sport.’ And ‘The people were really nice there, I really liked it.’

Thank you Lossiemouth Bowling Club!”

Q: Have you hosted any other try bowls events this season?

A: We haven’t as yet. We have been extremely busy at the start of this season and with the priority being on a return to “normality” post COVID, we decided to hold off for a while. But on the back of Thursday’s success, we are hoping to strike while the iron is hot and have set up an event on Monday 4th July, specifically targeting the pupils that attended on Thursday and their families. The school have assisted us by mailing out a Try Bowls poster with the event details on our behalf. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a good turn out!!

Q: From your perspective as a DYC are there any learnings from this event or advice you would give to other clubs looking to encourage more juniors into our sport?

A: When talking about the number we had, it can sound daunting, but if you break the sessions down into smaller numbers, and get enough helpers on the green, keep consistent with what you are delivering and most importantly KEEP IT FUN, then the vast majority of clubs could deliver what we did on a similar scale. But it is also fine to start small. Don’t be put off from arranging something because you think it’s not worth it for 1 or 2 juniors. We’ve all got to start somewhere!!

I know that fellow District 2 clubs Keith BC and Hopeman BC, also had around 50 pupils each at their clubs from local primary schools on the same day as us. Nearly 300 children that may never have been to a bowling club before all trying on the same day! Imagine if even 20% of clubs could do similar every year!!

Also, reach out to your DYC if you are unsure. I see development of clubs as a large part of my role, not just delivering a few competitions every year, and I know there are many more like me throughout the country.

Bowls Scotland want to thank Alan for his time sharing this story and wish all the team at Lossiemouth BC good luck with their next try bowls event in July and beyond. We hope to see this relationship between club and community continue and are encouraged to see so many youngsters playing our wonderful game.

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