With members aged from nine to a very sprightly 95, the Radnorshire Indoor Bowls Association in Llandrindod Wells prides itself on an inclusive approach that welcomes anyone keen to play in its six-rink international standard stadium.
So when they heard about Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund, they saw a fantastic opportunity to encourage more mobility impaired players to get involved with the sport.
Paul Vaughan, Chair of Trustees, explains: “We have quite a number of players who use a wheelchair so we applied for support to convert a manual wheelchair to motorised. It will help members to play independently, without the need for a volunteer to push them up the rink. Of course, this also makes life easier given the ongoing coronavirus situation and the social distancing that’s required.
“Having a second motorised wheelchair will help us to make our rink even more welcoming to disabled bowlers. We have excellent coaches at club, intermediate and advanced level and two of our wheelchair bowlers have been selected to represent Wales in international tournaments. We’re looking forward to nurturing more talent and also inviting players to enjoy the fantastic social side of bowling.”
Research suggests that physical activity levels in adults over 55 in Wales dropped during the first national lockdown in spring 2020 and, with the added barrier of winter weather, many older people will be finding the current restrictions extremely tough.
But being active is vitally important to a person’s mental and physical health, so Sport Wales is encouraging clubs across the country to consider how the Be Active Wales Fund could be used to support ideas for improving opportunities for older people to make a confident return to sport once the restrictions ease.
To help bring their own plans to fruition, the Radnorshire Indoor Bowls Association successfully applied for a £3,627 grant through the ‘Progress’ element of the Be Active Wales Fund. They are one of more than 800 sports clubs and organisations across Wales who have benefited from a share of over £1.8m through the Be Active Wales Fund since the pandemic began.
More is still available for Sport Wales to distribute thanks to money from Welsh Government and re-purposed funding from the National Lottery, and the Be Active Wales Fund has now been streamlined to make it more straight forward for clubs to apply for the funding they need.
As well as supporting clubs with ideas to ‘progress’ their offerings, grants are still available to protect clubs who are facing severe losses of revenue during the current lockdown period, as well as to help clubs prepare to make their activities Covid secure once restrictions are eased.