With the 2021 bowls season fast approaching, many clubs are worried about what this season will bring. Will we get our members back? Will we be able to have tournaments? Will we survive? The questions are unending, and at this point, there are few answers. One thing we do know is this: COVID will still be causing restrictions in most parts of Canada. We may not know to what extent, but it is safe to say that we won’t be “back to normal” by June.

What does this mean for your club? It means this is very likely the best opportunity your club has had in its existence to attract new participants. After a dull, dreary, locked-down winter, almost every Canadian is itching to get outside, see their friends, DO something – anything – besides being cooped up in their house. Yet with COVID still here, there are likely going to be numerous restrictions still in place: maximum capacity at restaurants and shopping malls, limiting events to just your family or small bubble, no large-scale events like concerts or festivals, the list goes on and on. So with restrictions in place, and yet almost every Canadian itching for something different to do, where will they turn?

Last summer proved that lawn bowls can happen during a pandemic. Sure, the restrictions differed across the country, and if you looked in on the types and frequency of play at every club last year they would vary greatly. But one thing they all had in common was that bowls was played, played safely, and offered participants an escape from lockdowns and isolation.

Last summer Canadians tried new activities like never before. People swung golf clubs for the first time in 2020 and now golf courses are selling out at record speeds. People who had never pitched a tent before discovered camping last summer, and now many parks are already sold out for the season … It’s only March!

Those who plan on hiking this summer will come across thousands of other people with the same idea, making their favourite hiking trail now shoulder-to-shoulder with a new influx of people.

Cue lawn bowls! By following the proper protocols, we had zero confirmed cases of COVID linked to bowls clubs last year. This could be a very compelling selling point to Canadians this summer – you can come try our sport, and do so safely. How many people this upcoming summer will be typing into Google: “What can I do in my area?” or “COVID-friendly activities I can do this summer” or maybe even “Date night ideas during COVID”. There are going to be hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions if you’re in a big city, looking for activities to do this summer.

How will you spread the news about your club to prospective new members?  Bowls Canada is developing a new campaign called “Belonging in Bowls” to help attract new and diverse participants to the sport of bowls. Look for more information this spring at www.bowlscanada.com. Have you checked out the Membership Engagement tutorials on the Bowls Canada YouTube channel?  You can find information on how to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to help promote your club or learn how to use Canva to design posters and other graphics.

This could very well be the BEST opportunity your club has ever had to get new people through your doors. Will our sport be making headlines next year as the go-to activity of Summer 2021? We certainly hope so!

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