Bowls in schools
One way to increase the number of juniors joining your club, is to create some junior activity programs through your local schools. School sports usually run for 60-90 minutes, so establish when your greens are available and the number of helpers required so you can determine how many students you can accommodate. Try one rink (eight students) per helper.
Put a cover letter together to outline what you are offering, focusing on the benefits of bowls being low cost, a low contact sport, has no player limitations and provides activity. Also, cover club Blue Card holders, numbers you can accommodate and times available. Send your invitation proposal package to all schools in your local area, one copy to the headmaster and another to the head of the sport department.
What to Charge
Lawn bowls can be a cheap alternative to other expensive school sports, but this service doesn’t have to be offered for free. What you charge is up to you but $2 as a minimum charge per student would be fair. This would still be cheap for the schools but bring in extra income for your club for little outlay.
Aim for keeping the students interested so be prepared to offer something different, such as Snake (drawing to the previous bowl to form a line of bowls or snake), or even circuit training to improve skills. The Australian Sports Commission, in conjunction with Bowls Australia, have a resource called Playing for Life which offers some great ideas. Again, think outside the square!
Obviously, smaller bowls would be more appropriate for children. Also, an advantage would be to have a pack containing colourful, inexpensive equipment for use with young students such as tennis balls, hula hoops and markers. The items in this ‘kit’ will not damage your green and you can even play indoors in rain or teach at the school.
Volunteers are imperative to running a successful school program. Focus on ‘kid friendly’ volunteers who have the club and students’ best interests at heart.
Committee members and volunteers involved in the running of a school program must hold a current Blue Card for Working with Children. The Blue Card is provided free for volunteers and should be applied for through your club. See the website: www.bluecard.qld.gov.au for more information.
Active After School Communities
Primary school children can access free sport and other structured physical activity programs after school 3.00-5.30pm under the national initiative of Sporting Schools, a $320 million Australian Government initiative designed to help schools increase children’s participation in sport and connect them with community sport opportunities. Sporting Schools programs are provided free to children and their families to help students build the confidence and capability to be active for life. The aim is to engage otherwise inactive children in sport through a positive and fun experience, which may inspire them to join a local sporting club.
Find out more here: https://www.sportaus.gov.au/schools/sporting_organisations/get_started#bowls
Setting up and running a school program requires very minimal outlay, however there are some areas where funding may be available to assist. The main area of expense is the purchase of junior bowls. Grants that would assist in this area are available from Department of Sport and Recreation, Local Council or Community Benefit Fund.
Where to From Here
While planting the seed at a school level for later in life may not initially gain too many members by itself, experience has shown that offering junior coaching on weekends helps those who are interested to take what they have learnt to the next level and gives juniors a chance to see if they enjoy bowls enough to become a member. If they do progress to becoming members, try and accommodate them by playing against other members of a similar age, perhaps in school holidays. Consider arranging an inter-club tournament for your juniors to give them the incentive to continue playing and the opportunity to taste the thrill of a more competitive environment.
Just remember the important part is to MAKE IT FUN.