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Bowls has a wide appeal

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:38 07 July 2010

Gallow members went to Hopton to see world title action such as this, with Fakenham's Mervyn King in action.

Gallow members went to Hopton to see world title action such as this, with Fakenham's Mervyn King in action.

Bryan Barnes of the Gallow Indoor Bowls Club at Fakenham Sports Centre asks: Could the sport be the way to build or extend your social life?



IN taking up the sport of bowls some years ago I thought that it was simply a way to engage in a sporting activity at a casual level.

Bryan Barnes of the Gallow Indoor Bowls Club at Fakenham Sports Centre asks: Could the sport be the way to build or extend your social life?

IN taking up the sport of bowls some years ago I thought that it was simply a way to engage in a sporting activity at a casual level. Little did I realise how dramatic can be the social aspects of the game.

There exists a quiet camaraderie not obvious at first sight. As a game it does not require exceptional strength or fitness and is quiet by nature, well most of the time.

I found a depth of friendship that was very unexpected. An age group stretching from five to 85 years now enjoys the sport.

The game also has some clear health benefits and there are courses, supported by the Primary Care Trusts, as a means of aiding recovery and rebuilding social relationships and confidence in heart attack, stoke and other patients.

There are beginners' courses at most clubs, especially the indoor clubs where coaching will be unaffected by the weather. Coaching is generally by licensed coaches, working with groups of about six pupils to a rink.

These people will get to know each other quite well over the period of the course, and where more than one group is being coached, may be mixed at times with pupils from another group.

As the course progresses, new friendships will be established.

Bowls is not a vigorous sport, and the participants are not very far away from each other, so they can therefore continue to communicate with the others during the session.

As the skills develop, the pupils can be transferred into friendly 'rollup' groups playing at other times and subsequently joining novices' leagues competing against but also meeting players of similar skills.

Relationships mature, and pre or post match coffee sessions occur. Greater proficiency will see many of the players venturing, with their newfound acquaintances, into club leagues, building on their circle of associates, even into the club ladies' or men's teams in county leagues.

Many will start out in this sport with their partners. Sadly, as does happen, one of them may pass away. For many of the survivors, the former friendships can prove to be a great blessing in the continuation of that social contact which all too often can otherwise be lost, leaving perhaps isolation and despair.

And even when bowling is no longer possible, there remains a place to visit for a coffee and chat, and where the game can still be watched and enjoyed as a spectator.

I subsequently trained as a coach and now see the wider picture, which was not evident at first sight.

My own club, the Gallow Bowls Club, part of the Fakenham Sports Centre based at Fakenham Racecourse arrange coach parties to Potters at Hopton where we watch the World Bowls Tour, currently showing on BBC TV.

It's great being part of an enthusiastic group who will all have similar interests.

Bowls is a superb basis for a social gathering.

It is there for you and available at the level that suits you. See you soon perhaps?

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