Yoker Academy Club Story

In September 2021, as part of our Return to the Green series, Bowls Scotland shared a story on Yoker BC, highlighting their Yoker Academy as a brilliant example of a project that has made bowls accessible to all and placed the club at the centre of its local community. Since then, Gary Earl from Yoker BC has been awarded our National Volunteer Award for his dedicated coaching and acting as a role model to the Academy members. Gary was nominated by one of the parents of the children who attend the academy.

This Autumn sees a huge project come to life for the Academy as a group of children and coaches travel to Tenerife for a 5-day trip featuring bowling workshops. Planning has been underway for almost a year with grants and funding covering most of the children’s cost to allow everyone the opportunity to take part in this unique project. We caught up with Gary ahead of the trip to find out more about the 2022 season and about the trip abroad.

“Planning began in November 2021 when Academy coaches Gary Earl, John Mulholland, Les Durkan and friend Kenny McGregor flew out to meet International Manager & Head Coach of Bowls Spain, Graham Cathcart. Graham is Bowls Manager of Tenerife Green Bowls and Social Media & Marketing Director of Bowls Europe’’

“From the first conversation Graham was very committed to hosting the Academy at a time that suited the Academy. The costs were high, given the travel dates required to be during the school holiday period, however, with a fundraising plan in place it was now about selecting the most cost effective and value for money hotel.

“The trip itinerary is set to allow a series of bowling workshops and game time but also ensuring that there is ample family time and to continue the friendships that have been built since the Academy began 6 years ago. The final day will see the Academy play Tenerife Green Bowls Club which will be followed by a meal for all players, and families who have flown with them to provide their support. The complex is a fantastic facility, and any keen bowler should pay the club a visit for a game or a refreshment whilst on holiday.”

Thanks to the Academy’s dedication to grant applications and sourcing of funds, costs for this trip have been kept to a minimum for Academy Members. Given that the club sits in the lowest income rank on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), this is a point which should not be overlooked as the fundraising is crucial in making sure the opportunity is available to all. Gary also explained about the Academy’s new kit which has gathered sponsors throughout the season, including the club being recognised by the Asda Foundation.

“The Community Champion at ASDA Clydebank put the Academy forward for a grant in March 2022. We were successful in receiving £845 for a bespoke sports kit and became a preferred Sports Club of the ASDA Foundation’’

“As part of the terms of grant the ASDA Foundation would become the main shirt sponsor and we were then looking to raise as much as possible to boost our fundraising totaliser. The kit took longer than expected to arrive primarily due to the numerous sponsors being achieved who were crucial in our fundraising campaign to raise our target for the trip to Tenerife.

Graham Group, who are building a new bridge over the River Clyde close to the club approached us to apply for a £500 grant. Unknown to the Academy the top three projects would receive £1,500 and we were fortunate to be one of these three. 

"Graham Group became rear shirts sponsors and Leeds based band The Dunwells, who are promoted 'North of the Border' by Gary agreed to sponsor the bottom rear of the shirts. To complete the sponsorship project local Sports and Menswear Shop Mayors agreed to sponsor the left sleeve. The total sponsorship of the shirt was over £2,500 and our fundraising campaign was off and running.”

Additional fundraising and donations came from local businesses with the Academy members raising the remaining balance required themselves. We found out more about the itinerary for the trip as well as some other news from what has been an incredible season for these young bowlers…

“All our Academy members had the opportunity to attend the trip and from our 11 regular players 7 were available to attend. Unfortunately, some already had family holiday commitments being the school October week’’

“We leave on Sunday 16th October and spend 5 nights in Tenerife at the Alua Atlantico Golf Resort in Golf del Sur on an All-Inclusive board basis. We asked each Academy member to pay just £60. Every other penny has been raised through fundraising, sponsorship, and donations. Local pub The Lovat Arms were very supportive through our fundraising campaign. They organised a race night for us which raised over £2,000. We are most grateful to them as we are with all our sponsors and donors.”

“The main purpose of the trip is really to provide a bowling experience abroad. The players are at the stage where ability is in abundance, but they just need to be more vocal and confident with each other and living and training with each other over 5 days gives them a perfect platform to do just that’’  

“This year we have seen every Academy player participate at competition level; Mixed Pairs, U25 County, U17 National Championships, Open Tournaments and Friendly Tournaments. The ages range from 7 to 16 and our oldest player Liam won a single-handed tournament in this his first year as a full member of Yoker Bowling Club.”

Bowls Scotland are delighted to see one of our member clubs offer such a fantastic opportunity to these bowlers of the future. Bowls is a sport that all ages and abilities can enjoy and with fundraising to remove the costs involved. Yoker BC have truly made sure that bowls is accessible to all in their community. We look forward to hearing a further update from the club and the Academy players following their once in a lifetime bowling trip to Tenerife!

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