Yoker Academy Club Story
Last month we shared news of the fundraising and planning efforts by Yoker Bowling Club to send seven of their Academy players to Tenerife for a week. We caught up again with Academy Coach, Gary Earl following the successful trip to hear about the experience for these young bowlers, their families and coaches...
“What a trip it was to Golf Del Sur, Tenerife for Yoker Bowls Academy. After almost a year of planning and fundraising the dream became a reality for 7 young bowlers, supported by 10 family members, 5 who joined in the bowling workshop experience.
“Flying from Edinburgh on Sunday afternoon, the players were picked up at Tenerife South Airport in their own personal team coach travelling to Alua Atlantico Hotel in Golf Del Sur.
“While there was an abundance of free time it was far from a holiday with the first practise session scheduled for 9am the next day. It was all about acclimatising to the 30oC heat and the artificial surface. The bowlers found their way very quickly and by the end of the practise session they were prepared and ready for their first match v Sundowners BC.
“In between, there was some relaxing, in and around the pool whilst the coaches finalised the team selection. Three triples and two pairs were selected, and a brilliant team performance saw the Academy win 10 v 2. Each player played way beyond any level imagined and it was a proud day for The Academy.
“Tuesday saw another 9am start and a practise session prior to their 4pm match v Tenerife Green Bowls B Team. With four triples selected for this game, confidence was high despite playing against an experienced team on their own green. It came down to the last bowl of the last game, Academy needing three shots to win the match but unfortunately it was not to be, and the score ended up 6 v 4 in Tenerife’s favour. The atmosphere was electric with team spirit and support for each other crossing four rinks. Despite the narrow defeat this game was arguably the highlight of the trip.
“Following two busy days on the green Wednesday was a rest day and a trip to Siam Water Park. It was just what the team needed in preparation for their big match with Tenerife Green Bowls A Team at 4pm the next day.
“Another early start on Thursday morning saw some internal singles with the team split into two sections playing three short games of 5 ends. DBA U25 player Liam Welsh qualified from Section 1 with Kathleen Speakman runner up. Section 2 saw Alfie Welsh qualify with Wyatt Speakman through as runner up. All four players qualified for Fridays finals and all non-qualifiers went through to participate in the silver plate.
“Back to the hotel again to relax and a quick tweak to the team before the afternoon game. Despite unbelievable bowling with the temperature over 30oC the A Team proved too strong, and the Academy went down 9 v 1. That said with one rink peeling and another one down the game was closer than the result suggests. Yet again the team spirit further strengthened, and this was one of the main goals of the trip.
“With a late start on Friday everyone let their hair down on their final night with a few cokes, slush puppies, games of pool and cards.
“Friday’s games began at 11.30am and the great bowls played through the week continued into the final games. Liam Welsh proved too strong in his semi-final against Wyatt Speakman, but Alfie Welsh needed an extra end to get past Kathleen Speakman to set up a family final. Liam got off to a great start and whilst Alfie rallied in the latter stages Liam took a 4-shot lead into the last end which proved enough to win the singles title.
“The week was concluded with a team lunch including speeches and presentations. Liam Welsh being presented with his singles title trophy and Kathleen Speakman was presented with the most improved player throughout the week. Each player also received a medal from International Manager & Head Coach of Bowls Spain, Graham Cathcart. Graham is also Bowls Manager of Tenerife Green Bowls and social media & Marketing Director of Bowls Europe and was instrumental in making the trip a success.
“A recognition award was presented to Liam Welsh for all his achievements through season 2022 including success at U17 National Level, U25 County Level and winning his first single handed club competition at the age of 16.
“The Academy would like to thank ASDA Foundation, The Dunwells, Graham Group and Mayors for their grant funding and sponsorship of the Academy strips as well as many local businesses for their kind support and donations to make the trip happen and be a huge success.”
An action-packed week of bowls and social activities which provided for many of the Academy players their first trip abroad. Many of the players, coaches and family members told us their highlights of this trip which we are sure will remain fondly in their memory for years to come… View the video below to find out what the Academy players, coaches and their families made of the trip.