The Northern Bowls Association and Guernsey Bowling Club have partnered up to secure the 2020 outdoor bowls season and ensure sufficient players are available as the island emerges from lockdown.
‘We are going to have both clubs operating from a single green at Beau Sejour,’ said Paul Wakeham, Club Captain for the Northern Bowls Association.
‘Some of our bowlers will play in the GBC leagues and we will have our own club nights too. It’s a win for everyone.’
Chris Dyer, Paul’s opposite number at the Guernsey Bowling Club has welcomed the partnership.
‘The impact of Covid has lost us 6 weeks of the season already and the virus and delay has led to a drop in our membership and knock-on effect on club fees and green fees,’ said Chris.
‘We are also only allowed to play pairs at the moment, so our overall numbers are restricted.’
Both the Delancey and Beau Sejour greens have suffered from damage due to leatherback infestations with the lockdown restrictions preventing timely remedial work and leaving the Delancey green currently unplayable.
‘We are not able to play on it at the moment but at least we can get some games, play some bowls and help the GBC with their finances,’ said Paul.
With support from the Guernsey Sports Commission, the two clubs have been working hard to get the partnership up and running. They have already created a fixtures list with members back playing and competing in a friendly league on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, individual club nights on Mondays and Wednesdays and ‘draw and play’ fun sessions on Saturday mornings.
‘Most sessions are now full if based on the current restricted numbers,’ said Chris.
‘We can keep our hands in bowling, that’s what we really wanted,’ said Paul.
‘We are hoping it’s only a temporary measure and that further down the road we can return to Delancey, but this is in the best interests of the sport. We are thinking positively and that this is just an interim measure; it might take a few seasons but in the long term we want bowls to be played at Delancey again.’
Both clubs are excited to be joining forces.
‘Our players have been champing at the bit to play,’ said Chris.
‘We have 12 weeks left of the season and we want to get as many games as we can. It’s about getting people out there bowling.
‘Our members are generally the older generation and playing bowls helps with their mental and physical wellbeing.’
Both clubs are determined to make the most of the new partnership.
‘Once our numbers are up, we are going to have some competitions for the trophies we have at our club,’ said Paul. ‘If we can maximise our numbers, we can hopefully maximise our funds.’
Steve Sharman, Relationship Manager for the Guernsey Sports Commission, is delighted that the clubs have been so open to working in partnership.
‘We know that a number of local sporting organisations and clubs have been struggling because of the impact of the Covid pandemic and lockdown,’ said Steve.
‘This is a great example of clubs thinking quickly and creatively for the benefit of their members and the wider community. I would also like to thank the staff from the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture for their help and support. It’s great to see bowls being played again.’