I am sure that many of our members will have already heard that the campaign to get Tenpin Bowling in to the Olympics for 2024 has not been successful.
This is a disappointment, but as with all things we need to listen, learn, and adapt. Bowling is still a popular sport, especially with young people, but we need to become more attractive as a sport in order to survive. I was heartened to see a Facebook post from Perttu Jussila, President of the Finnish Bowling Federation yesterday.
Couple of days ago we learnt that once again bowling will not be part of Olympic games. Next possible chance is Los Angeles 2028.
IOC has made fairly clear what they are looking for from the newcomers: non traditional youth sports. Did we like it or not it makes sense. Electronic devices, social media etc have made it a challenge for sports to lure youth. It is also something that has to be responded.
I find it ironic that rarely boards or committees which are working with youth programs actually have a single youth member. If we honestly want to make our sport more popular among the youth we have to give younger generation responsibility and welcome their ideas.
If we had a senior committee with only under 25-year-old members quite many would question it. So how on earth it is acceptable that youth committees can be composed of senior members only?
The argument that I will face when I point this out is that youth are not interested. That is partly true but then we have to seriously think if our organizations are built in a way which has a bright future or future at all.
Therefore I challenge each and every member federation of World Bowling to create a youth committee that has at least 3/4 of its members under age of 25. Give them a chance and listen what they have to say.
We have a problem so let’s fix it.
There has been a steady decline in the number of bowlers in YBCs over the last 15 years, it won’t be quick or easy to turn it around.
The NAYBC is already undergoing transformation, although much of it is behind the scenes at the moment which means that our members, parents, volunteers, coaches, and supporters won’t have seen our hard work and plans yet.
Our plans will be finalised and revealed in the coming months, we will need your help to fine-tune and implement them. Three words I mentioned above will guide our next steps:
Very soon we will be asking everyone for feedback via a survey, we need to understand our members/coaches/parents/volunteers, their needs, and how they perceive us.
Like all good bowlers we are always learning. Our plans must fit the needs of our members and together we must learn from the past and from the views and suggestions provided on the survey.
As a sport, and an organisation, we have struggled to keep pace with changing needs and demands of bowlers. We need to be more agile in our approach and move faster. If we don’t make changes, the downward participation trend will continue.
I am also happy to announce that a new BTBA Youth Council will be created. The council will be made up entirely of youth bowlers and will have the opportunity to shape the future of their sport. This initiative will be led by Helen Tamblyn, who has already put in a lot of work after proposing the scheme last year at the NAYBC National Forum last year. The recruitment process will begin in late Spring, with the council being formed over the summer ready for their first meeting in September.
This is an exciting step in our collective journey and I look forward to sharing it with you.