THE recent European Development Seminar in Glasgow, an initiative of World Bowls, the global governing authority of lawn bowls, has ushered in a new era of confidence, co-operation and growth for the sport in Europe.
Featuring the best and most influential minds in European bowls, the summit comprised ten participating countries freely sharing views, experiences, successes and problems, and has been hailed as a major boost to the development of bowls in the region.
Importantly, it was an opportunity for Europe’s emerging nations to rub shoulders with an array of administration, participation and officiating professionals from the powerhouse Bowls England and Bowls Scotland organisations.
The orchestration of the Glasgow project was originally hatched last year as part of the Development Strategy produced by World Bowls, to address the global problems of declining memberships and the serious dearth of the sport’s profile.
Likewise, the sport’s newest fledgling nations were struggling due to lack of exterior support. To that end, pledges from all nations involved to freely embark on a course of mutual co-operation and communications resonated much confidence and inspiration.
A series of excellent presentations identified the key issues along with recommended remedial action, and the resulting attention to these will have a major impact on the well-being and growth of bowls in the region.
Even seasoned participants were impressed with the contributions from emerging nations; France – launching its slogan for bowls in their country: ‘It’s more than a game, it’s a way of life’ – also Turkey and The Netherlands.
In particular, dynamic Turkish trailblazer Ozkan Akar, who had never seen a lawn bowl until six years ago, unearthed a grand proposal from one of his country’s most luxurious resort hotels, the Rixos Premium Belek, to build a state-of-the-art bowls complex within its grounds. Currently there is only one bowling green in Turkey, at the River Garden Hotel, also in Belek.
Should this reach fruition, the two facilities in Turkey along with the collection of lovely clubs on Cyprus, including the world-class Athena Beach Hotel bowls complex in Paphos, would see the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea as a major bowls hub in Europe.
‘World Bowls is delighted to have taken the lead in addressing the problems and issues which are hindering the development of our great sport,’ said president John Bell at the conclusion. ‘The organisation and delivery of this inaugural development seminar has gone a long way to create realistic opportunities for individual national associations to ‘pick up the baton’ and make a positive difference to the development of our sport in their countries.
‘It is very likely that this exercise will be repeated at some point in the future when I hope we can reflect on the progress and initiatives, which will surely emanate from this initial event in Glasgow.’
Note: The programme and arrangements of the seminar were organised by World Bowls and kindly supported by Bowls Scotland (host national association), Travel Places (travel and accommodation coordinator), Hunter Johnstone Marketing Solutions, St Vincent Bowls Club, Bowls England, Bowls Development Alliance, Bowls International Magazine, Aero Bowls, and Taylor Bowls.
Photo: Turkish trailblazer Ozkan Akar delivers his presentation to the European Development Seminar in Glasgow.