The rise of Indoor Bowl club closures is creating a significant dent in participant numbers.
Indoor Bowls is a game played either in pairs or singles. It consists of two sets which are made up of nine ends, and the way to score a point is by getting your bowl the closest to the jack.
The Indoor Championship took place over January 2023, where Englishmen Jamie Walker came away with the Singles trophy.
He beat Scotland’s Jason Banks in a close final to take home his first ever World Championship. He won by two consecutive sets.
Walker’s competition, 26-year-old Jason Banks, is a current young prospect in the Bowling world. He beat two-time champion Mark Dawes in the semi-finals to advance, a result not many people expected.
Reflecting on the match Mark Dawes said: “It’s a difficult one, I think because of my circumstance there not really being an indoor club anywhere near me.
“he’s (Banks) a known player to me and a lot of other people, he’s probably not somebody who i would have picked to be in the semi-final. It was a good opportunity.”
Mark Dawes is currently ranked 5th in the world, and used to bowl at a club in Blackpool, Unfortunately over the COVID period Blackpool Newton Hall was closed down and is currently being repurposed.
Since the closure of Newton Hall, there is now no other indoor clubs in the North West, just crown green centres, and because of this, numbers are dropping as there’s no place for people wanting to learn the sport to practise.
“It’s just there’s no facilities and yeah, you’re looking between here and Carlisle, there are no actual clubs that affiliate.” Said Dawes
When a club is affiliated it means any member can compete competitively, there are currently 35 affiliating bodies in the UK.
With nothing left locally the only other alternative would be Carlisle or Penrith, and with majority of members living in Blackpool, an hour and a half to go play bowls is not ideal.
Dawes is currently practicing in Lincolnshire and sometimes in Oldham and trying to shake the stereotype that bowls is for old people.
He said: “Three or four generations can play the same game, and that’s ultimately the greatest thing, so many people play and say I wish I’d started this years earlier.”
Someone else affected by the closing of Blackpool Newton Hall was 23 year old Lewis Rimmer writer for the Lancashire Bowls website.
He stated that: “First of all I think we should stop letting Bowls places close down so easily, for a lot of members this is their main form of socialising.
“But it’s hard to bring new people onboard when it doesn’t naturally appeal to young people […] if parents brought in their kids or maybe grand-kids I that’s a way of opening it up.”