The Strategic Facilities Plan has been developed to support the growth of participation in bowls and to provide a planned approach for the provision of facilities in Western Australia. Bowls WA. The Department of Sport and Recreation and local government authorities will be able to use this plan as a guide to identify the gaps and duplications in the provision of bowling clubs and facilities. It will also identify the key requirements and activities carried out by sustainable clubs. Bowls is no longer just a summer sport played by older persons and the sport is looking to increase involvement of all age groups throughout the year, convert community bowlers to competition bowlers and change the image of the sport.
Bowls has in recent years increased its participation particularly in community (corporate) bowls competitions. These competitions have increased revenues of clubs but also the requirements for lighting, synthetic greens and generally the quality of clubhouse facilities. The plan also identifies numerous factors and activities carried out by clubs which enable them to remain sustainable and a valuable community asset. The longevity of a bowling club and its facilities is reliant on the following factors:
- Membership – capitated, non-capitated and social
- A strong volunteer base
- Good financial management
- Facility usage for a broad range of activities
- Diverse range of revenue sources
Clubs can not survive without a strong base of club members which play in a range of competitions and who are also the clubs volunteer base. Clubs are now increasingly reliant on these volunteers and paid employees to generate additional revenue through the increased use of their facilities. In addition to the running of pennant and open competitions the main activities that clubs undertake are the conducting of community bowling competitions, hiring of the facilities for events and sub-leasing their facilities to other sporting clubs or users.
In the past decade there has been a significant trend toward clubs replacing natural turf greens with synthetic greens. The survey and workshops indicate that there currently exists approximately half natural turf and half synthetic greens. A number of clubs, especially smaller clubs that do not have a fulltime green keeper and small volunteer base are raising funds to replace their natural turf greens with synthetic greens. The majority of metropolitan clubs that advised they will be retaining their natural turf greens were larger clubs with 3 or 4 greens, a large volunteer base and sufficient income to support a full-time greenkeeper.
The findings and recommendations of the needs assessment are based around three key areas. These areas are:
- Increased participation
- Facility management
- Financial management
Successfully dealing with these three areas will result in a greater number of sustainable bowling clubs, increased sporting participation and reduced reliance on volunteers.