NATALIE CHESTNEY, 28 FROM DEVON
When I was at school, I loved all sports. I represented the school in football, hockey and athletics as well as swimming at county level up until the age of 11. However, I must admit to be the worst racket sport player you have ever seen. Embarrassing really!
Before my brother and I were born, my dad played bowls pretty regularly. He introduced us both to the sport at the ages of 9 and 7 respectively at the local indoor centre, where they had a thriving junior section. We both loved it and have played ever since!
As well as being great fun and an outlet for my competitive nature, bowls also ensures I spend most of the summer months outdoors which is something that I really enjoy. The social side of bowls has also been a big part of my life. Through bowls, I actually met my husband, Jamie, as well as forming friendships for life with people of all ages. One of the things I love about bowls is that it is a sport where you can compete at all levels, playing against the highest level opposition one week and alongside club mates during a local league game the next.
I can honestly say that bowls has changed my life in so many positive ways. I have travelled the world, met the most wonderful people (including my husband of course!) and it has taught me a lot of important life skills which I have been able to use at work including team building, effective communication and concentration / time management. It gives me the chance to immerse myself in an activity and forget all the other stresses of everyday life.
I think more women should take up bowls as it is an active but sociable sport. It is one of the only sports that is genuinely for all the family but can be used as an escape if needed! It is a low impact game that can be played alongside other sports or activities if you like - it is a really flexible sport. There are always options to play in mixed or ladies only events, depending on preference. If I could say one thing about bowls – it would be to ignore all the stereotypes and give it a go! I promise you won’t regret it!