ELLEN FALKNER, 38 FROM CAMBRIDGESHIRE
I was introduced to bowls through my dad and mum who both play. I have always been sporty, playing hockey, football and tennis at a decent standard. Bowls sat alongside many other sports while I was in my youth. It was only when I left University at the age of 21 that I fully committed myself to bowls. This decision was very much driven by how I felt when playing for the England Junior International team, which first happened when I was 17. I loved the thrill of representing my country and it was the best weekend of the whole year as far as I was concerned.
Being competitive by nature, bowls has provided many opportunities for me to compete from club level to the world stage. I have been incredibly lucky to travel the world, test myself at the highest level, share some amazing experiences with team mates and develop bonds for life. Bowls has also been a huge part of my family life with my parents and grandparents playing as well as through the sport meeting my husband, Chris. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, in particular playing with my mum and nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport, that you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most.
From family to friends, most of my closest friends, I have met through bowls. A common interest and passion that has brought so many of us together. Yes, our sport can be competitive on the green, but off the green, it generally is such a friendly community to be part of. I also don’t know of another sport where you can develop such a wide friendship base from late teens to late 70s! I have also seen first-hand from friends who have been through difficult times, from fighting cancer or to losing a partner, how bowls has given them something to focus positively on as well as providing a tremendous support network.
In addition to playing, more recently, I have also entered into coaching and management roles and was hugely honoured to be the Team Leader for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. It is a way that I can give something back to the sport that has given me so much and hopefully help others to achieve and fulfil their dreams.
I think bowls can be what a woman wants it to be. It can be a way of meeting new people, making friends, and a safe place to go and be part of a community. It can also be a sport through which you can develop and progress and play at different levels and represent your club, county or country. On the green, I think bowls is the all-round package. It is both technical and tactical and is a real test of your mental abilities too. I also find that it is a sport that you never master and as much as this sometimes frustrates me, it is why I keep coming back for more!