You don’t have to be old to play bowls

I’m not talking about ten pin bowling either

I’m a 20-year-old who plays bowls. I’m constantly being judged and made to feel bad for playing a sport which has so many negative stereotypes for being an ‘old people’s sport’.

So here’s a short list of everything you hear when you’re under 30 and you tell people that you play bowls. 

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“Bowls? Do you mean ten pin bowling?”

No Rebecca, I mean lawn bowls, where you play outside, on grass. “Oh, so it’s not the one with all the lanes and the pins?” NO.

“Isn’t bowls just for retired, old people?”

This is the most common remark that all young bowlers get. Yes, older people do play bowls, but why does that mean that I can’t play it?

I predominately play with people my own age, or those who are still in full time employment – so no it’s not a sport restricted to “the elderly”.

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Do we look like bowlers to you??

“I’ve played bowls loads of times on holiday”

No you haven’t. You’ve played a children’s version of Pétanque, with plastic bowls that don’t even weigh 1lb.

“Don’t you wear old people’s clothes, like all in white and long skirts?”

Ok some of the outfits aren’t great, but we have come a long way since the days of having to wear skirts 8cm below the knee, cravats, hats and gloves. This summer I even sported a new era of bowls shorts, quite the controversy when you’re showing off skin two inches above the knee.

“Is bowls in the Olympics?”

Not yet no, but lawn bowls has launched an application to the International Olympic Committee for it to receive Olympic recognition.

“Oh, well if it’s not in the olympics then it can’t be a proper sport.” Seriously? Netball has never been played in the summer Olympics, but you wouldn’t say that that wasn’t a sport, would you?

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“Bowls looks SO easy”

If it looks ‘so easy’, why haven’t you given it a go yourself? It’s certainly no walk in the park. There is a lot of skill and tactics involved in bowls, something that can take years to learn.

“Do you do other old people things, like go to bingo, or volunteering at a charity shop?”

Just stop with the stereotypes now, please.

“Isn’t it really boring?”

Any sport has the potential to be boring, and if it was in fact boring, why would I have kept playing for 10 years? Bowls games can be tense, exciting and above all fun. A competitive game can get nerve-racking, but when you’re playing with good friends you soon relax. Bowls games can be really close, going to extra ends, similar to a tie break in tennis.

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look how bored we look

Bowls is more than just a sport, it can be a time for socialising and spending time with friends. If you don’t believe me, then head down to your nearest bowls club. Or if that is too challenging, simply watch the film ‘Crackerjack’ – an Australian comedy on the sport.

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