Torbay bowling greens are buzzing with youngsters

At the initiative of 2008, the Torbay Sports Council decided to form the first school bowls league in the world.

Designed to suit those who needed an alternative to physical sports, the league received funding and in 2009 it was ready to go!

After all four teams attended Ron Mitchell’s preseason induction, where they learned the etiquettes of the sport, the long-awaited competition began.

On day one, Torquay Community College beat Paignton C&SC 7-3, while Cuthbert Mayne beat Westlands by the same scoreline.

As the season progressed, the games drew large crowds and each week the skills of the 11-13 year olds improved noticeably.

After eight weeks, Finals Day saw undefeated Torquay Community College rink beat Westlands, at Victoria Bowling Club, to become the inaugural league champions.

Bowls clubs had provided coaching, encouragement and even refreshments.

The schools had brought their teams to the matches, on time, without a hitch, and the youngsters had behaved flawlessly in an environment so new to them.

The following winter, we had so much interest from schools that the original four rinks had grown to twelve! Both girls’ and boys’ grammar schools had applied to join the league, and Tower House School was added later.

Paignton/Torbay, Upton, Torquay, Victoria, Paignton and King Bowling Clubs had all donated their greens for the new season and even offered a free one-year membership to any parent and child wishing to take up the sport together.

The 2010 season was a phenomenal success and the greens all around the Bay were buzzing with youngsters who couldn’t get enough of this new sport.

We split the twelve rinks into two divisions to make it easier to organize, and from day one the competition was fierce.

Games were on Tuesdays between 4:15 and 5:15 p.m. and, of course, flat-bottomed shoes were mandatory. Clubs received £20 each time their greens were used… BUT almost none of them ever claimed the money!

At the start of the new season, Torquay Boys’ Grammar School played their first match against Girls’ Grammar, and over a hundred spectators watched as the boys won a close contest 6-4.

As always, I was there with colleagues from the Sports Council and we sat spellbound.

For people who had spent their lives promoting the sport, the sight of so many youngsters performing excellently, and being coached and supported by older members, was about the pinnacle of satisfaction.

I will never forget the sight of a wizened old lady taking a thirteen year old girl’s hand and showing her how to grip a bowling ball. The young girl’s eyes were wide with admiration, and the old lady so happy to be of use. Like a Nokomis, and a Minnehaha, united in the sports wigwam. Unforgettable!

Finals day was July 6 at Queen’s Park and the champions were yet to be determined.

Defending champions Torquay Community College lost their final game to Torquay Boys’ Grammar School, who then had to beat Tower House to win Division A.

The high school won a close game by 8-6, and we had new champions!

After six play-offs, we ended the season with a final merit board.

Torbay international bowlers Natalie Melmore and Sam Tolchard were due to leave for the Commonwealth Games soon but still found time to call and hand out the awards.

The finals were filmed by Active Devon who supported us throughout.

Perhaps our proudest result, at the end of the 2010 season, came when clubs reported that twenty-six of the young players had accepted their offer of membership, along with a parent, meaning Torbay had fifty-two new bowlers that winter.

Despite its success, the Torbay Sports Council had other things to do than run bowls leagues, so for 2011 we produced a comprehensive list of matches and then handed over the management to the local bowls community.

For some reason, the whole concept quickly fell apart, and by 2012 school bowl leagues were just a memory.

In recent years we have seen the greens at Ellacombe and Upton close and membership decline. Can the idea of ​​the Schools Bowls League be revived?

He has so many things to recommend

It’s so fundraising, so photogenic, and why wouldn’t young people have the option of opting for less physical sports anyway?

About Adam Gray

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