Under-25s bowls team crowned as national champions
- Credit: Steve Pope
After winning the national championships, one Norfolk team is proving that bowls can be a young person's game.
Steve Pope, team manager of Norfolk's under-25s indoor bowls team, couldn't hide his delight after they were crowned national champions on Saturday, April 2.
Competing in Nottingham, they defeated Hampshire 44-23 to be crowned national champions at the end of Mr Pope's first season in charge.
“I am so proud of each and every one of the team,” he said.
“I only took the role on this season but the togetherness is so strong.
“To get the win in my first season was a major achievement but, as I keep saying, I only pick the team. The lads had to produce the result.
“All the lads - with the exception of one - will be playing under-25s for a few more years to come.
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“A special mention must also go to the family and friends that travelled to watch and help push the team over the line.”
Norfolk's under-25s' squad is made up of 11 players, five whom play their bowls at The Gallow sports centre in Fakenham alongside Mr Pope.
The team consists of two ‘blocks’ of four players and reserves.
Their route to the final began with a narrow 50-49 victory over Suffolk, before another tight win over Cambridgeshire by 51 shots to 50.
They then defeated Leicestershire 50 shots to 21, before triumphing in the national final during a finals fortnight at Nottingham Indoor Bowls Club.
When teams are situated less than 100 miles apart, such as Norfolk's games against Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, one block plays at home while the other travels to the opponents.
Against Leicestershire, a neutral venue was chosen which, in this case, was in Spalding, Lincolnshire, where both blocks played at the same time.
"The lads were fired up for the game and determined to bring the title back to Norfolk,” added Mr Pope.
“They were supported by family, friends, myself, and Norfolk’s County President, Richard Andrews, who is also Gallow-based.
“Hopefully this shows just what goes on in the bowls scene in Norfolk, and that there is a younger audience for bowls. We want to move away from the stigma of this being an old person’s game."