England’s Commonwealth Games lawn bowls stars have thrown their backing behind a new campaign that aims to increase the number of women participating in the sport as a player, coach, administrator or official.
‘Women Can’ aims to bring to life the many different things that bowls can offer women – from social and competitive bowling to friendship and fun. Three-time Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Ellen Falkner is leading the initiative on behalf of the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) with support from her Gold Coast team mates and fellow ‘Women Can’ ambassadors Natalie Chestney, Sian Honnor, Katherine Rednall, Sophie Tolchard and Alison Yearling.
Gail Hunter-Gilkes and Mo Monkton, both of whom are currently at the Commonwealth Games in a coaching capacity, have also been named as ambassadors.
Falkner, who struck Gold for England in Manchester, Delhi and Glasgow, said: “To be involved in a campaign to encourage more women to enjoy the sport of bowls is a fantastic opportunity for me to give something back to the sport I love. It is difficult to articulate in words the impact that bowls has had on my life as it has been so significant. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, especially playing with my Mum and Nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport – you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most.”
It is estimated that only 39 per cent of bowlers in England are women, and ‘Women Can’ aims to see that percentage rise to 45 per cent by 2021.
In addition, eight ‘Women Can’ Leaders have also been named to provide support to bowls clubs wishing to increase participation, coaching, officiating or administrative opportunities for women.
Future plans for the ‘Women Can’ project include the production of resources to help clubs to recruit more women including relevant marketing material, the development of new formats and offers to attract diverse groups of women into the sport. Support will be offered to assist clubs wishing to pilot and implement innovative ideas.
Bowls England Chief Executive Tony Allcock MBE said: “Bowls England is delighted to support the ‘Women Can’ campaign and trust that it will inspire women of all ages and abilities to participate in the sport as either a player, coach or volunteer.”
Peter Thompson, English Indoor Bowling Association Chief Executive, said: “The EIBA is delighted to support the Women Can Campaign as it will encourage more women to play, coach bowls and/or be involved in the day to day running of our clubs.”
Visit www.playbowls.org/womencan to view the campaign video, which showcases the many different things that bowls can offer women.