COMMONWEALTH GAMES UPDATE AND CLUB SUPPORT FROM OUR CHAIR
I am delighted that, in preparing this column, I am able to look forward with great positivity for the future of our sport.
I must begin by publicly extending a warm welcome to our new Chief Executive, Jon Cockcroft, who is nearing the end of his second week in post. When Jon was appointed back in February, none of us would have expected him to join us in such unprecedented circumstances.
Jon has already grasped the nettle and I know he is looking forward to speaking with the bowls community at all levels to understand our targets, our aspirations and deliver some exciting initiatives alongside the Board and staff team.
A focus for this will undoubtedly be the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. This week saw the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announce a 24-hour change in start date for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games which will now begin on Thursday 28th July running through to Monday 8th August.
This adjustment ensures that Birmingham 2022 will now boast two full weekends of Commonwealth sport – which is great news for those who plan to visit Victoria Park to view the Lawn Bowls events. We will, of course, be working in collaboration with the Organising Committee to ensure that you have every opportunity to enjoy the Games – whether that be as a volunteer or spectator – and also to maximise publicity for the longer-term benefit of our sport.
Clubs are going to be key to our plans for future growth in participation and our role is to ensure that you are equipped and ready to welcome your new recruits.
In support of this, at our latest Board Meeting we gave the go-ahead to the development of a package of measures to support clubs, including the rollout of webinars covering topics identified by members as their top priorities in our recent Covid-19 survey – most notably recruitment, retention and communication. Following the success of the recent social media webinar, we are currently preparing the content for the next two webinars which focus on the importance of good communication and news items, and data protection and legal issues. More information will be circulated on these in due course.
We are also reviewing how we can best provide recruitment support to our clubs in the short and long-term, especially given some of the practical challenges that we all currently face. It has, nonetheless, been welcome to see so many clubs opening their doors in recent weeks and once more enjoying our sport in some very innovative ways. I’m confident that many will seek to continue in this manner as their ‘new normal’ and I remind you that all guidance regarding COVID-19 from Bowls England and external bodies can be found at www.bowlsengland.com/coronavirus-guidance/.
Finally, on the international front, the Board received an update on an outline proposal from Bowls Scotland to amend the future format of the Women’s International Series. Initial consultation has been held with the Team Managers and Regional Selectors, and it was agreed that we would work collaboratively with the other Home Nations to develop an international programme that best meets the needs of our sport.
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Our social media community is also a great way to engage with our affiliated clubs and members, enabling you to pick up many valuable tools which can be implemented at your own club. You can find our channels at: