Many smaller clubs are struggling to get new members and field even single teams in a league. Often bowlers new to the sport tend to join larger clubs which have better facilities or are just easier to get to, have more social events, more teams to join at various levels of skill etc. Small Clubs are starved of resources and often rely on just a few members doing many tasks or playing on several teams so any player they lose has a big impact on the club. Signficantly, having only one team in a league means there is no room for less experienced players even if they join, so they leave to join a club where they can play. Having more members, in particular enough to play more than one team in at least one league, would transform the opportunities for club members, and make more social bowling events more practical.
Too many members can create problems as well. There cannot be enough teams to allow all members easy access to play in a team regularly. Too many teams mean greens are used too heavily and suffer damage. Access for practise and social bowling can be limited.
Several clubs are already in a critical situation. They need new members to shore up their teams and provide some additional income and resources. Other changes will be needed in the near future but something must be done soon to avoid greens closing forever. Once they are gone, there will be no coming back.
It is vital that all clubs stop looking inward at their own problems and consider the bigger picture, the future of the Bowling Community. Resources need to be channelled back from the bigger clubs to the smaller ones so both can thrive. This may mean sharing resources or directly transferrring them but if it happens it could transform the chances of smaller clubs surviving for many years to come.
What if a few members of big clubs, registered to play for a team of a smaller club? This would bring a sudden influx of members where they are most needed and release some of the pressure on their home greens. The greens of smaller clubs are hardly used at all since there are fewer matches and less opportunities for social bowling. It would be like the bigger clubs having an extra green to play on. They would be sharing the greens. Yes it might mean less teams can be supported by the bigger clubs in time but more teams at the smaller clubs will be able to field a full squad and perhaps even some B teams. They might survive, where they would have folded.The effect on the bigger clubs is likely to be quite small, a few less members on some teams, perhaps less income, but the effect on the smaller clubs could be the difference between staying buoyant and going under.
This cannot happen unless you are willing to get behind it. Discuss the idea and ask yourself how long it will be before you have no smaller clubs to play with at all. They will be gone forever. If you want to push that day back, make a sacrifice for the good of the Bowling Community and embrace this initiative. In the end only half the fixtures are affected anyway but it is a sacrifice and members who are willing to do it for the sake of their Bowling Friends in other clubs need to be applauded. If you cannot take part yourself, encourage your fellow members and let them know you recognise their sacrifice. Indeed, the very best way you can show your members and the Community that you care and support this initiative, would be to take it a step further and offer to pay the membership subscription to the smaller club out of their own subscription to your club. The numbers are unlikely to be high but by all means place a limit of say 10 so members grab the opportunity quickly before the start of registering this season. Many will I am sure, but do you want to be the first? The Pioneer? Or will you be the last....
Talk to the bigger clubs in your area. Tell them which teams you need support for and about this initiative and ask for their help. We all know that players often play for several clubs nowadays, but usually for personal reasons. This is a personal reason. Members do care about their Community and want to have a strong league of clubs to play against going forward. Welcome any members who have taken this bold step and soon you can add the B teams that are so critical for development.