We take an irregular look at the activities that are uniting young and old. First up: bowls.
We chat to Eastbourne resident Simon Perry had been a keen badminton player, along with his wife, before he discovered the joy of bowls.
What made you think about talking up the sport?
My brother has played for many years and he introduced me to it. Also, due to a knee injury I had to give up badminton and I was looking to take up another competitive sport.
How did you start?
My local indoor club was holding an open morning for new bowlers so I went along and was made to feel very welcome. I then had a few lessons along with some other new bowlers and joined the club soon after.
Can anyone play or do you need certain skills?
Anyone can play. You can turn up and play socially with friends or join club leagues and play tournaments if you want to play more competitively. We have juniors at the club who play regularly and people in their 80s who are still playing. It is a very social game and after playing it is usual to stay and have a drink in the bar afterwards.
What do you like best about it?
I have met a lot of new people through bowls. I love playing in a team in various club and county leagues or just popping into the club for an hour for a practice and a chat with fellow members.
Why do you think more young people are taking it up?
I think more people are aware of the sport due to coverage on TV. All indoor and outdoor clubs hold open days to encourage new members. Obviously it still attracts a lot of older people as it is a sport people can do when they retire without the physical ability required for other sports.
When younger people come along to try it they realise it’s not as easy as it looks but soon become addicted to it. They then introduce friends of theirs who had never thought of playing.
Simon plays at Hampden Park Indoor Bowls Club.
Bowls is for everyone
Although bowls is no longer included in the Paralympic Games, it is a game that lends itself to being a sport disabled people can play. It can also be life changing as this report from a visually-impaired player tells us.
Disability Bowls England aim is to be the governing and co-coordinating body of Bowls for athletes and players of all ages and abilities with a physical, sensory or learning disability. The following specific organisations lend their support.
CP Sport – Cerebral Palsy Sport
EALABA – English Amputee and Les Autre Bowls association.
BWBA – British Wheelchair Bowls Association.
VIBE– Visually Impaired Bowls England. Formally ENAVHB.
Each of these squads runs their own national championships.
A Sport England initiative is also encouraging girls from ethnic minorities to take up bowls, prompted by a survey that found that South Asian women are the least likely group to participate in sport. Read the BBC’s report on the success of the initiative.
Fancy trying this and other sports? Vist the BBC Get Inspired website.