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MEET THE EIBA BOARD: JOHN REDNALL
For John Rednall, the decision to become an EIBA Director
was an easy one. Bowls has been in his blood since early
childhood when he'd relish watching his parents and grandparents
playing for Felixstowe & Suffolk BC.
John had been rolling bowls in his garden since
he was a toddler so when he graduated to the bowls green, outdoors
age ten and indoors age 14, his natural ability shone through and he
was soon competing at club, county and then international level.|
"Quite simply I love bowls," he said. "It has been my main hobby
or passion all my life and as well as playing I've coached, managed
my county outdoor team, written numerous articles, commentated and
held administration positions in various capacities.
with most of us, I have had so much fun and enjoyment participating
in all aspects of the sport and I wanted to become a director while
I'm still a very active player and coach."
was John's enjoyment of the indoor game that just once a week after
starting out at Stowmarket ICI indoor, he found himself in an
evening league at Diss before starting to play competitively at
Ipswich & District IBC.
"For me, bowls was addictive and I would
even catch the train from Stowmarket to Ipswich as a teenager to go
and practise," John recalled. "It was a 40-minute walk from the
railway station to the indoor bowls club with a heavy bag of bowls
but I was committed to the sport even at that age; I set myself
enormous ambitions and wanted to fulfil them. The dedication paid
off and I'm still as committed now, after all these years."
who has amassed 42 caps playing for England indoors and 101
outdoors, saw the EIBA advertisement asking for nominations from
candidates who have experience of coaching juniors. Having been a
qualified coach since 1985 and a schoolteacher for 33 years, John
believed he was the right man to assist the EIBA with wholescale
development of programmes and pathways for juniors.
have taught hundreds of children to play bowls, coached juniors at
Ipswich Indoor on Saturday mornings years and have directed bowls
coaching in schools and in the community. I've had the honour of
working with various county Under 25 teams and last year, I was the
team coach for the successful Suffolk EIBA National Under 18 team
that won the title at Nottingham.
"I feel that I have a lot
to offer in the role of director."
John says his meetings
with the board and EIBA Chief Executive Peter Thompson have been
Together, they've agreed the bones of his role:
1. Awareness of
indoor bowls to under 18s across the nation
2. Introduction to
bowls via schools and community groups linked with indoor bowling
3. Development of youth sections in indoor clubs
Creating and establishing a pathway into the sport via English Bowls
Development Scheme, skills awards, club, county and national
competitions and international events
"It's really ambitious and
hopefully ground-breaking," John said.
"When I was a music
teacher in schools, my philosophy was to get as many children
wanting to play instruments, sing, act, participate in assemblies,
concerts and productions as possible. At one point, 92 children
voluntarily joined my lunchtime choir; I had a school orchestra of
more than 40 pupils, a brilliant jazz group, a string orchestra, and
"I just wanted children to thrive on musical
opportunities, and develop their love of music. My philosophy for
junior bowls is identical - to get as many children as possible, from
a really young age, loving playing bowls. I want them to be excited
about the sport and to want to play it with their friends and
families for the fun of it. If they become competitive and eager to
develop as future stars, well that would be great!
an influx, a surge of new participants in the sport. Let's hope we
recruit youngsters in their droves, teach them the basics properly,
coach them in a truly professional and exemplary manner and get
their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents
involved too. If children enjoy bowling, they will exude enthusiasm
to their friends and families and communicate the positive message
of the benefits of our sport to the outside world. This in turn will
make it appealing and something that will benefit new bowlers, our
clubs, counties, the EIBA and indeed the sport as a whole."
What are the biggest challenges the EIBA faces?
there is already a lot of good work being done by the EIBA Board.
"The EIBA has evolved to make the game modern and appealing but at
the same time valuing and retaining the traditions and acknowledging
the past," he said.
"It is now reaching out more and more into
the community to enable everyone to come and have a go, to
experience the intrinsic benefits of social interaction, good mental
health, fitness, exercise and enjoyment of our great sport. There
are events to suit just about every age and ability, varied
competitions from one-day events to large-scale team events and a
superb national finals co-ordinated by Carl Higgins.
some great facilities across the country and our clubs are very
welcoming hubs in which members can meet for company, meals, social
events and as many games a week as they want. However, there are
some enormous challenges and threats to our sport. The daily
landscape within clubs is changing, maybe because of Covid.
seems that many members want to play socially, without the pressure
of fixtures: they love to play in the afternoons in friendly formats
rather than in leagues and competitions. In the main, they do not
want to be competitive bowlers; they have no wish to go on and
represent the club, however I know several who have surprised
themselves by making good progress, bowling better than they ever
thought they would and asking for help to improve further.
hope they will eventually join league teams and enter competitions
as the current lack of competitive bowlers presents a challenge.
Some clubs struggle to field county league teams, friendly teams and
even domestic leagues are seeing withdrawals. Many indoor clubs now
have just one evening session rather than two, such is the decline
in domestic competition.
"Committees at club level are realising
that they need to diversify, hire out their facilities and recruit
newcomers as a matter of urgency, to balance the books and survive.
The economic crisis inevitably affects us as bowlers as rink fees
and memberships continue to rise; match fees are expensive and this
discourages some from playing Denny, Yetton and similar games.
Transport costs have soared for individuals and for clubs hiring
mini buses and coaches; accommodation costs also preclude some
players from entering nationally.
"Sadly, we are largely
having to ask for volunteers to staff the office and bar which were
previously paid roles. In short, the economy and lack of forthcoming
volunteers are huge challenges. We have seen far too many indoor
clubs dying in recent years. These are big concerns for the EIBA and
For John, the biggest frustration about the game is
the stereotyping that still exists in the media.
He said: "We
all know that bowls is for everyone and that it's dynamic, exciting,
passionate and exciting, particularly in team events. Unfortunately, too many in the media still portray it as a sedate
sport, only played by the elderly. Sometimes, the interviewers
portray young bowlers as an exception to the rule and even embarrass
them by asking why they enjoy a sport that is perceived to be an
older generation activity. This does nothing for the self-esteem of
the younger bowler who is actually the best publicity for the sport
"Hopefully, the work I am doing as a director will
get hundreds of children playing and make the image more positive
and highlight the inclusive nature of EIBA."
Interview with Robbie Barker