Bowls faces re­cruit­ment chal­lenge

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

WESTERN PROV­INCE bowls will con­tinue its devel­op­ment drive in 2011 with a con­certed ef­fort to take the game to the masses.

Whether they will gain mar­ket share de­pends on the will­ing­ness of the af­fil­i­ated clubs to get more in­volved.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in bowls is over­whelm­ingly dom­i­nated by white folk; it’s been that way all along.

Why black and coloured peo­ple have not been en­ticed to play re­mains the co­nun­drum WP Bowls have to un­ravel. For one, the drive in the past decade has fo­cused on the wrong tar­get mar­ket.

Yes, youth par­tic­i­pa­tion is an ob­vi­ous mar­ket, but young- sters of to­day will be hard pressed ex­plain­ing away to their friends that they choose to play a game con­sid­ered the do­main of older peo­ple over other so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

The real mar­ket the con­trol­ling body should be af­ter is exs­ports­men and women aged 30-40. While progress has been made in this area, plenty more ac­tion is needed to boost mem­ber­ship num­bers that have lev­elled out in the past cou­ple of years af­ter an alarm­ing drop be­fore that.

So how does WP Bowls go about things?

Maybe they should con­sider em­ploy­ing a com­mis­sion-paid of­fi­cer whose task it would be to mar­ket the game to busi­ness and sport codes in the Cape – a per­son who spends the week sell­ing the game to a wider au­di­ence.

Let’s not shy from the fact that, un­less new blood is brought into the game, and with haste, bowls faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture.

With mem­ber­ship be­low 5,000, and with the ma­jor­ity the wrong side of 60, ac­tion needs to be taken to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion, and with haste.

WP Bowls can only do so much; the onus is on mem­bers to play their part.

If they are to be hon­est with them­selves, they will con­cede that lit­tle if any­thing has been done in the re­cruit­ment ef­fort.

A mar­ket­ing and devel­op­ment sem­i­nar was held last month with 30 clubs in at­ten­dance.

The pur­pose of the ind­aba was to reach com­mon ground and to agree on the way ahead.

How to change at­ti­tudes and per­cep­tions of the game of bowls in sell­ing the game to po­ten­tial mem­bers will prove telling in en­tic­ing them to the sport.

And the way one goes about in­tro­duc­ing the game to new mem­bers must be done in a re­laxed man­ner.

A rigid hi­er­ar­chy still ex­ists in terms of play­ing po­si­tions – older mem­bers think it’s their di­vine right to play in the back rank (tabs-in) springs to mind, at the ex­pense of a novice player who in most cases is a su­pe­rior player.

Dress code should also come un­der scru­tiny; maybe WP Bowls should poll mem­bers in this re­gard.

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