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Club Development Programme

A new initiative that aims to help bowls clubs across England to develop, better sustain their current membership numbers and recruit new members in the sport has been launched.

The Club Development Programme has been created by the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) as part of its four-year Delivery Plan funded by Sport England.

Every club that signs up to the programme will receive direct support from the BDA to create a Club Development Plan that will help the club not only to provide the best experience for its present members but support new recruitment initiatives to increase their current membership.

Susan Cooper, BDA Development Director, said: “The BDA was delighted to secure a further four years of funding from Sport England that will help to both sustain and grow the sport of bowls through to the 31st March 2021.

 The Club Development Programme forms a key part of our overall Delivery Plan for this period. It is an invite only programme that has been created to directly support those clubs who are most in need of external support and have found it especially hard to maintain their membership levels and to recruit new members. We will continue to review the programme and more clubs will be invited to take part as we move forward.”

The BDA is working closely with Bowls England and the English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd to identify those clubs for whom participation in the programme will be of greatest benefit.

Tony Allcock MBE, Bowls England Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that our clubs will benefit from this initiative. I am sure those clubs who do sign up to the programme will benefit from the specialist advice and support that will be available. We would encourage any clubs who are invited in future to take up this opportunity.”

Peter Thompson, EIBA Ltd Chief Executive, added: “The English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd is pleased that there is funding and support available to our Clubs who are wanting to maintain and ultimately increase their membership. The opportunity to utilise the services and experience of dedicated development staff is a huge boost for the growth of the sport.”

Clubs that have been selected to participate in Phase One of the programme are:

  • Bilton Bowls Club (Warwickshire)
  • Consett Park Bowls Club (Durham)
  • Darlington and District Indoor Bowls Club (Durham)
  • Entaco Bowls Club (Warwickshire)
  • Horsham and District Indoor Bowls Club (Sussex)
  • New Earswick and District Indoor Bowls Club (Yorkshire)
  • Oxford University Press Bowls Club (Oxfordshire)
  • Painswick Bowls Club (Gloucestershire)
  • Riverside Indoor Bowls Club (Hampshire)
  • Uxbridge Bowls Club (Middlesex)

Clubs that have been selected to participate in Phase Two of the programme are:

  • Banbury Chestnuts Bowls Club (Oxfordshire)
  • Boston Indoor Bowls Club (Lincolnshire)
  • Bridgman Indoor Bowls Club (Bedfordshire)
  • Century Indoor Bowls Club (Middlesex)
  • Countesthorpe Bowls Club (Leicestershire)
  • Horncastle Indoor Bowls Club (Lincolnshire)
  • Ipswich & District Indoor Bowls Club (Suffolk)
  • Oasis Indoor Bowls Club (Norfolk)
  • Oxford & District Indoor Bowls Club (Oxfordshire)
  • Pentney Indoor Bowls Club (Norfolk)
  • Skegness Indoor Bowls Club (Lincolnshire)
  • Thornaby Indoor Bowls Club (Durham)
  • Woodstock Bowls Club (Oxfordshire)

Map of all the Phase 2 clubs part of the programme.


Clubs for Phase One and Two were identified using the following criteria:

  • Clubs must be affiliated to either Bowls England or the English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd
  • Clubs must not reside in a 2016 BDA Hotspot area
  • Clubs must have the capacity for membership growth
  • Clubs must have had significant membership percentage decline or gross membership loss over recent years

Clubs who take part in the programme will meet with a BDA Club Development Officer and agree as a partnership a Club Development Plan that will focus on the needs of the club. They will work to complete the actions within the Development Plan across an agreed time frame. Clubs will be supported throughout by the BDA and they will receive £500 to support actions identified within their Development Plan.

Club Development Programme Phase 3

The Programme:

All Bowls England and EIBA affiliated clubs are being invited to apply to be part of Phase 3 of the Club Development Programme. The programme has been operating since April 2017 and has already seen 30 clubs working alongside BDA Club Development Officers to identify areas for improvement and the actions that are subsequently required. To date, areas such as coach development, volunteer recruitment, attracting new members, marketing and website development have all featured as priority areas for development. If you think that your club would benefit from being involved in the Club Development Programme, then please find the criteria for application below:

The Criteria:

To be eligible to apply for Phase 3 of the programme clubs must meet the following criteria.

  • Clubs must be affiliated to either Bowls England or the English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd
  • Clubs must be willing to be proactive and take on tasks set out in a Development Plan
  • Clubs must have seen a decline of 10% or more of their net membership from 2015 to 2017
  • Clubs must have a demonstrable capacity for membership growth
  • Please be aware the hotspot restrictions from phase 1 & 2 have now been lifted and clubs from all counties can now apply.
  • We expect to receive a high number of applications and clubs will be shortlisted for Phase 3 based on membership loss, capacity for growth and the supporting statements. If your club is not selected for phase 3 but meets the criteria outlined above and has provided sufficient evidence of why the club needs the support of the programme, you will be informed and placed onto the shortlist for Phase 4 of the programme. For those who do not meet the criteria, please be aware that the Play Bowls Package (please click this link for more infomation) is available to all affiliated clubs via the twice yearly application windows.


The Process:

After all applications have been reviewed, successful clubs will meet with a BDA Club Development Officer. The club in partnership with their BDA Club Development Officer will work together to create a Club Development Plan. The tasks set out within the plan will then be actioned by the club committee and volunteers with the support of their BDA Club Development Officer.

Additional Support for Clubs

Play Bowls Package Funding

Clubs who are not yet part of the club development programme can apply for Play Bowls Package Funding. Play Bowls Packages provide clubs with the necessary financial and non-financial support to continue to grow and sustain the number of people playing bowls within their facilities. Clubs affiliated to Bowls England or EIBA can apply for £250 worth of funding to deliver a Play Bowls Day (Open Day) followed by 4 x Play Bowls 4 Fun session - an informal, relaxed, coaching session with the emphasis on fun and enjoyment! More information about the packages can be found on the Play Bowls Package Funding section of our website.

Club Matters

Club Matters, the essential one-stop-shop for sports clubs, will provide you with support, learning and guidance on all aspects of running a club whether it is large, small, formal or informal. Club Matters offers free, simple and bitesize support to all clubs. To use the Club Matters' resources, simply visit their website and sign up for free. An overview of how yourclub can benefit from Club Matters is attached at the bottom of this page.

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