Case Study: Lurgan Bowling Club
Some of the club members had assisted Lurgan Park’s Development Officer in running a Junior Bowls Camp as part of a Summer Sports Scheme for a couple of years prior to 2010 when the Park Management asked them if they would take over the Camp. Clearly seeing it as a development opportunity to possibly introduce young players into the Club, the General Committee readily agreed and asked for volunteers to run it. A good number came forward.
Having gone through their Safeguarding Training successfully, and having received their Access NI clearance, they, with David Millar, Youth Coordinator, worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the Junior Bowls Camp with the help of good advance publicity. They enjoyed it and so did the 21 young people who turned up every day over the week to learn about the sport and to try it in some cases for the first time.
The Junior Bowls Camp has gone from strength to strength with more young people returning each July and more club members keen to get involved; to such an extent that the Club has now six active IBCA Assistant Coaches who chose ten hopefuls and worked with them on Tuesday afternoons for the remainder of the outdoor season. These Assistant Coaches are keeping in contact with them over the winter and have introduced them to the short-mat game with at least six of them now playing for the Armagh Junior Zone Team.
It’s been an exciting journey for the Club and a thrill to see young players developing via the Junior Bowls Camp and making their way into the teams and beyond.
Two young male bowlers, Kristopher Matchett and Reece Millar, have done well in the NIBA Youth Singles Championship with one reaching the semi-finals on a number of occasions; while the other one won the NIBA Youth Singles Championship; and to be Irish Youth Singles Champion twice in consecutive years and then U25 International honours. Both also established themselves in the NIBA Junior Team in the Annual Inter-Association Series; while also doing well in the Indoor Stadium Bowls scene with one of them being awarded a gold medal for being British Isles Champion in the Pairs.
A couple of our teenage girls, Chloe Wilson and Teri Millar, have excelled in gaining U18 International honours with Chloe having graduated from our Junior Bowls Camp.
It has also been a rewarding experience for our assistant coaches and helpers to work with young people with disability and witness them enjoying their bowls so much.
The success of all these young people has been down to their willingness to concentrate, practice and succeed and also the utmost dedication of their coaches who have been unstinting in giving their time and the support.
Some useful hints based on the Club’s experience:-
- Lobby, and gain the support of, the Club’s Management Committee to realise the benefits of a Coaching and Youth Development Policy and encourage them to support its implementation.
- Appoint a Club Development Officer that will include the Youth aspect.
- Have a robust Club Coaching and Youth Development Policy in place that will include, and not only cater for, youth but also adult newcomers and vulnerable people.
- Encourage the involvement of adults in the Youth Development programme and them to become IBCA Assistant Coaches; eventually aspiring to fully qualified coaches.
- Ensure that all coaches and helpers have had awareness training in respect of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable People and that they have been successfully vetted through the Access NI process; while also ensuring that they are fully aware of the Club’s Policy and who the Club’s Safeguarding Officers are.
- Youth Development needs financial support; so:-
- introduce an active and sustainable sponsorship-seeking campaign supported by effective public relations with local business interests.
- seek grant aid from your local council and learn more about their financial aid streams by attending their seminars.be mindful of potential national funding streams as well.