Proving that it's cool to play bowls

World-class bowls player Mark Royal hopes that the next generation of top players will come out of his home county of Suffolk following the success of a revolutionary new junior tournament.

World-class bowls player Mark Royal hopes that the next generation of top players will come out of his home county of Suffolk following the success of a revolutionary new junior tournament.

Royal is desperate to change the ageing image of bowls and so therefore took time out of his busy schedule to organise the first ever Suffolk Junior Bowls Tournament.

Held at the Royal's Rookery Bowls Club in Stowmarket, the tournament saw 32 youngsters aged 15 and under compete, as well as over 200 spectators attend.

Indoor World No.13, Royal said: “We have eight young members at the Rookery and I wanted to do something for them really.


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“Most junior bowls competitions are for under-25s and that doesn't really give the 11 and 12 year-olds much to play for because they obviously really struggle against 23 or 24 year-olds.”

Royal therefore devised a competition format for the 15 and under tournament that is thought to be the first of its type ever.

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The original 32 competitors are split into eight groups of four, the winner of each progressing through to a head-to-head singles knock-out format.

Meanwhile, the three runner-ups from each group go on to form a triples team that also go on to play together in a knock-out format.

Royal said: “This is not only probably the first ever junior tournament for under-15s in the country, but this format has probably never been thought of before either.

“I started bowls at the age of 13, as did most of the world's top players. By starting at that age you get your hand-eye rhythm early. I think the game becomes harder to learn the older you get.

“With anything youngsters seem to pick things up quickly. The talent on show at this tournament was really good and hopefully a few of them will go on and be catching me up in a few years.”

Handing out the prizes on the day was World No.1 Greg Harlow. Royal said: “I know Greg really well from my playing and he said he would be happy to come down.

“He was very impressed and said it was one of the best tournaments he had seen organisational wise in general.”

Wrentham Bowls Club's 14 year-old Ben Harber was crowned the singles winner on the day, coming from 8-4 down to beat Ethan Page 16-10.

Harber received a set of Drake's Pride bowls for his win, while Page received a bowls bag for his runners-up spot.

In the triples consolation competition, Georgina Marwood, Luke Shaw and Ben Morrison beat Lauren Clarke, Hogan Cobbold and Thomas Critop 10-7 in the final.

The triples winners all won a bowls bag, while all other competitors received medals, a bowlsworld voucher and a goodybag.

The entire tournament was free to both enter and watch thanks to sponsorship from a variety of sources including: Bucks Property Agents, Bowlsworld, Drake's Pride, Ridgeons, Vindis Skoda of Woolpit, Calvern Kemp Accountancy and Potters Leisure.

It is now hoped that the tournament will become an annual event.

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