JAMIE-LEA WINCH believes the booming success of Bowls’ Big Weekend provides the perfect platform for aspiring newcomers to get involved and ‘addicted’ to the sport.
Winch, 31, made a special appearance at Hinckley’s Burbage Crusaders Bowling Club to get locals fired up ahead of a packed summer of sport.
And with a two-time Commonwealth Games medallist gracing the local green, Burbage’s Bowls’ Big Weekend event – one of over 800 free taster sessions across the country – saw a wide array of players trying out the sport for the first time.
Rugby’s Winch, who represents Kingscroft Bowls Club in Leicester, said: “Hopefully the weekend gave people the opportunity to see for themselves how addictive bowls is.
“I love bowls because it’s so inclusive. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender or your ability.
“I remember my first bowls game when I was 10-years-old – I played against a 90-year-old so it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how old you are you can play the game.”
Winch will be appearing at her third Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer and is excited to showcase her talent to the world – and to those a little closer to home.
She added: “I’m super excited.
“I feel as excited as my first Commonwealth Games, to be honest, because this time I will be playing in front of friends and family.
“My sisters have never seen me play before and my fiancée has never seen me represent England. So that’s why I’m so excited to put on that England shirt and play.
“If people have a go, see what they think to it and get behind us for the Commonwealth Games, it will be fantastic.”
Hinckley resident Graham Marsden, 75, used Bowls’ Big Weekend as a unique opportunity to finally leap onto the green.
He said: “I kept thinking of playing and I saw that they had the open day, so I’ve come down just to practice.
“I’ve never played before and always wanted to and it will make me join, I think.
“It’s just being out in the fresh air, a bit of exercise and meeting other people.”
Julie Demott, 54, also saw the event advertised and was pleasantly surprised by the younger demographic of bowlers who made an appearance.
She said: “I’ve seen people playing it before and always thought that it was one of those sports that all old people do, but I thought I would come and have a look and I’m surprised that there are some younger people here.”
And the youngest bowlers of 12 and six-years-old took to the green later in the day, also being inspired by Winch in a solo training session.
Their grandmother Ruth Lakin, 63, was thrilled with their participation and how inclusive the sport was, saying: “Bowls should be for everybody – the kids are enjoying it and maybe they will want to take it up one day.
“My daughter is thoroughly enjoying it too. I didn’t really know what to expect but it’s been great fun.”
Find your nearest participating club at: www.bowlsbigweekend.com