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Young players in bowls club's sights

PUBLISHED: 12:41 02 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:28 16 September 2010

BOWLS: Fakenham's Gallow Indoor Bowls Club has a vibrant and packed competitive schedule and a healthy membership, but those who organise the sport within the club are reluctant to rest on their laurels.

BOWLS: Fakenham's Gallow Indoor Bowls Club has a vibrant and packed competitive schedule and a healthy membership, but those who organise the sport within the club are reluctant to rest on their laurels.

An important plank of the club's policy is the constant drive to introduce new, young blood.

They have some 500 senior members but are looking to the future when the national picture indicates that indoor clubs, after many years of expanding numbers, are currently suffering from falling membership lists.

Gallow, whose policy of encouraging junior membership has perhaps helped them suffer a less severe drop than most clubs in the eastern area, are in the forefront of the drive to introduce junior members to the winter game.

This year's three-day fully subscribed annual summer camp at the Fakenham Sports Centre, as well as featuring bowls, also included tennis, archery, golf, squash and racketball. Summer camp co-ordinator, Bruce Bushell, said: “Again it has been very successful. We believe it is important to encourage youngsters to take up a healthy sport.”

Bryan Barnes, the Gallow junior bowls club coach, with the help of qualified coaches Adrian Loft and Ronald Cooper, introduced some 36 juniors, boys and girls aged nine to 16, to the sport.

They learned the rudiments of the game on rinks that have been graced by several club members who have represented their country, including multiple world champion Mervyn King and Jamie Chestney who, with Spalding's Graham Smith, reached this year's quarter-final of the world pairs championships.

Bryan Barnes is especially proud of the fact that in 2009 the seven-county regional final of a National School of Excellence event for juniors, held in Cambridgeshire, was dominated by Gallow who provided five of the nine finalists.

“Gallow provide strong competitions for our junior members, and in the past we have had some significant successes. This year we are strong enough to enter an eight-strong team in the Norfolk U25 competition.”

Because of the wide age range the young bowlers were provided with bowls of various sizes.

“I hope the juniors enjoyed the experience,” said Barnes. “Hopefully some of them, and any other junior interested in the sport, can learn more by joining the club's weekly winter coaching sessions which start on September 24 and 25 at 9.30am at the Fakenham Sports Centre.

“They can graduate to a busy competitive club schedule that features afternoon, evening and week-end leagues whilst the top players represent the club at county and national level.

“We also have a beginners' league and even cater for those who only want to play friendly games.”

More information can be obtained by ringing the sports centre on 01328 862867 or visiting their website at www.fakenham-sports.co.uk

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