By Melissa Moyle
Lawn bowls has long been linked with ageing men no longer able to enjoy more demanding sports, but an increase in young people taking interest in a regular roll-up is changing that perception.
Despite the belief lawn bowls is only for the over-60s, much younger bowlers are increasingly joining in on the fun to form friendships and experience something different.
Helen Hamilton, president of the Mount Lawley Bowls Club and WA board member, has been playing the sport for 35 years.
“The misconception that bowls is only for older people is mostly external. For example, most of the state team is under 30,” Helen said.
Helen said the social side of bowls is also a huge drawcard for people looking to meet more people.
“We’re part of a family. That’s how we treat each other … everyone gets along well.”
Helen says the regularity of the schedule also means it keeps players busy, with games happening up to three times per week.
She says there is still a competitive side to the game, with the younger generations starting in juniors able to achieve Australian recognition for their efforts.
“There’s a challenge to it and there’s even an Australian team, which is something a lot of people don’t know about,” Helen said.
For people new to Perth, including migrants and long-term visitors, lawn bowls can also offer an immediate social circle.
Enda Munnelly, 37, moved to Perth from Ireland in 2010 and found bowls to be a handy way to find some mates and learn more about his adopted home.
“I found there to be brilliant social interaction whilst maintaining a competitive edge … it also helps understand the Australian culture as a foreigner, especially from a generational viewpoint where there might be two to three generations difference between yourself and a team mate,” Enda said.
He said the vast age difference between team members allows younger players to feel welcome and have the opportunity to play the sport for decades.
“It can open avenues for people who may not have the body or ability to play other sports but yet have a soft touch and might be a technical thinker.”
There are many bowls clubs around the Perth area for men and women interested in trying their luck with a slow-paced but enjoyable sport.
For more information www.bowlswa.com.au.