The unseen work of a county development officer

Across this bowling world of ours, County Development Officers (CDO’s) toil away trying to make the sport better. Quite often this work is not known to the wider bowling world. Only those of us who attend various meetings will be aware of what they do. Some have better success than others convincing schools, councils, and other bodies, that bowls is a great sport to play, that it is proven to help with a person’s physical and mental health.

In order to publicise the work, the CDO’s have done, the report below outlines the work of the CDO for Merseyside, Bill Dow. One of the jobs I hold is to be the Chairman of the Merseyside Association and it is with pride that I publish bills report.

Since striking up a working relationship with the Merseyside Sports Partnership in 2020, I have maintained that relationship and as a result had several inquiries from across the County directed to me regarding where people can go to learn to Bowl.

Since my end of year 2021 report, I have continued to work with the Bowls Development Alliance attending a 2-day course in Birmingham after being selected by them to become the ‘Commonwealth Games Northwest Area Bowls Activator’.

This position necessitated my being actively involved in promoting all forms of Bowls for at least 22.5 hours per week for the 6-week period leading up to the Commonwealth Games. This was as well as the time I spent in my normal duties as a Coach, Referee, Team Captain and of course the County Development Officer.

As a result of all the above personal activities, I have:

  • Attended Well Lane Primary/Junior school and given every pupil in that school a ‘taster session’ of Bowls using the ‘new age’ bowls sets.
  • Enhanced my relationship with Tranmere Rovers FC Community Development Team by personally purchasing 2 (2nd hand) short bowls mats and accessories for use at the ‘TRFC’ Beechwood Centre on the Beechwood Estate. These have been used, together with the new-age Bowls equipment, to provide taster sessions to schools in the more deprived area of Birkenhead giving children of less wealthy parents an opportunity to participate in a sport that is more financially within their means.
  • Continued to attend the ‘Fitfans’ sessions run by the TRFC Community Development Team and given Bowls taster sessions to many men and women.
  • Provided coaching sessions at Meols St. John BC to some 20 ladies ranging in experience from new to seasoned bowlers.
  • Organised a number of Bowl For Health courses at Albany BC, Bromborough Social BC, resulting in a number of people taking up the sport and being directed to their local clubs.

I have worked throughout the year with the ‘Heart 4 Refugees’ charity, teaching refugees how to Bowl on a short mat at St. Pauls Church in Rock Ferry, before transferring the coaching sessions outdoors to Victoria Park No.3 where the Refugees were made more than welcome to the sport by Gladstone Bowling Club.

In April I was approached by Wirral Metropolitan College and requested to organise an introduction to Crown Green Bowls for a group of 16 to 18-year-old refugees who were attending college learning English. I worked with members of Port Sunlight Village Works BC and a wonderfully Sunny day in June had some 30 young refugees from various warzones being coached by myself with the invaluable assistance of Marc Bircumshaw (BCGBA CEO), Ian Gill (BDA), Kevin Turner & Arthur Hall (PSVW BC).

All the students expressed their gratitude for the way in which they were treated and thankful for the time spent teaching them about our great sport and about some of our English Heritage. All this was recorded by local and national press with reports appearing in Wirral Globe, Liverpool Echo and my interview on Granada Reports.

Wirral Metropolitan College have again contacted me regarding repeating the above event for more similar students. As a result of the press coverage of the above event, I received a request from Sarah Robertson from Wirral Borough Council for a meeting to discuss how we old work together to promote Bowl on Wirral. Since that meeting at Harrison Park BC where I introduced her to the sport, I have attended an ‘Active Wirral COLLABOR8 Network Event’ organised by Wirral Council where I took the opportunity to network with representatives from other organisations and promote Crown Green Bowls. Several youth organisations were most keen to have the youngsters they worked with given the opportunity to try our sport. Further discussions will follow.

Also, I was approached by the Liverpool Football Association (LFA) and the ‘Northern Lights’ charity regarding organising a Fun Day for the group of people who suffer from parkinsonism disease and their families/carers. As a result of several meetings in Liverpool with representatives of these organisations and Liverpool Council, I was given the choice of two bowling greens to make use of. Having attended both greens I negotiated the use of a circular green in Circular Road, Liverpool 11. A successful ‘Fun Day’ was held on 25th September and the green has been made available for regular coaching sessions in the New Year. The LFA are putting in a funding application to obtain several sets of Bowls together with bowling aids for people with disabilities as demonstrated by myself at the Fun Day.

Since this event I have now been approached by representatives of Liverpool and Knowsley Councils asking for meetings with a view to working with them to promote bowls and encouraging more people to become physically active through Bowls.

I have persuaded a couple of experienced bowlers to do a level 1 coaching course to increase the number of coaching courses we can run and therefore increase the number of new bowlers into the sport.

It is sad to see Oxton Cons losing its bowls hub club status, but this has been the only negative on the season. As a result of this I have moved my coaching equipment to Albany BC who are demonstrating a wonderful attitude and encouraging new bowlers to take up the sport

I dare say that there is more that I have not mentioned as it was a very busy year for me, I was out every day promoting our sport as well as playing, coaching, or refereeing. I only hope that I can continue next year in the same way….

William Dow

Development Officer – Merseyside County Crown Green Bowling Association

About Steve Davies 168 Articles
Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game as well as a keen player of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Media Officer for the BCGBA, Merseyside champion in 2002 and Merseyside County President (2014-15) Steve has always been keen to promote the game especially through the broadcast of the game on TV or Internet. Steve set up the LIVE BOWLS YouTube channel which became the Bowls Observer channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report on and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine.