The president of Huddersfield District Bowling Association, Adam Douglas, has revealed that the sport has been given the green light to advance its ‘return to play’ plan.
The British Crown Green Bowling Association has provided all its members with guidance going into the 2021 season. Mr Douglas is eager to get his association members back as soon as possible.
He said: “After months of uncertainty, just like other sports, we have finally received the good news that we have all been waiting for.
“Crown green bowling has been given the go ahead to recommence in 2021 as part of the organised sports category.
“We received very detailed guidance late on Friday and there is a lot to digest. As an organisation we will review the guidance and agree plans that put players’ health and well-being at the forefront.
“This positive news is a huge boost not just for bowling in general but for Huddersfield, as we have greater participation in the sport than most other areas of the country.
“As we have only just received this information it’s difficult to put a date as to when competitive bowling will commence in Huddersfield, but anything is better than nothing in these current times.”
As part of an event to get the sport back up and running, Bowls England is holding a Big Bowls Weekend in an attempt to get current members back out playing, and try to attract new players. Taking place over the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend (May 28-31) Bowls’ Big Weekend is a national initiative offering clubs the opportunity to promote the sport.
Whilst that is all great news for the sport, Mr Douglas, 35, from Honley, is aware of some of the challenges that lie ahead, one of these being the closure of some venues.
On the challenges, he said: “We have 80 teams, 856 players and 60 greens. That shows you the scale of the sport in Huddersfield alone and how popular it is.
“One of the major challenges we have is losing these beautiful greens because of people wanting to build on them. The most recent example was in Newsome. It’s sad they’ve been lost to developers. Another one was the greens at Canalside on Leeds Road. That was sad how that all ended.”
Mr Douglas insists whilst the perception of the sport might be that it’s mostly played by older people, in reality a lot of younger people enjoy both playing and the social side too.
“When people come to crown green bowling it’s not just about playing, it’s about meeting in clubhouses for a pint or a soft drink and getting to know others.
“You might think the sport is just for the older generation but there are plenty of young people playing it too. Obviously it’s something we have to keep driving and that’s definitely one of the challenges to keep enough young people interested in the sport.”
Having started playing at a young age himself, it was Mr Douglas’s grandmother Marion who originally got him into the sport and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I got into bowling from a young age. My grandmother used to play and said to me I should give it a go so I did. I have played at junior level for Huddersfield and Yorkshire.
“I remember sitting on the bus with my grandmother and Geoff Martin was on the same bus. He was the junior coach. She introduced me to him and the rest is history. I’ve made a lot of friends through bowling and I’m glad my grandmother got me into the sport.”
With the Coronavirus pandemic hitting Britain during 2020 and continuing into 2021, just like many other sports, bowling stopped.
The regular bowling season is normally played from April until October with various indoor events being held during the winter months. None of the leagues started last season and for the majority it will have been 12 months away.
Mr Douglas said: “It’s been very tough, we never got going last year. It’s been a long time for some people who really want to get out there and play. I understand their frustrations when they see other sports starting up and we haven’t got going yet.
“One of the problems we’ll have is that a lot of the greens are at drinking establishments. As part of their guidance they need to use outside space to put tables out and be socially distanced and so some places will have seating on the greens. So we’ll just need to see how things go.”