Winning Drive assists a progressive Pinjarra

by Aaron Delaporte

The Bowls WA Club Development program Winning Drive has entered a review phase following a successful first twelve months of operation.

The program supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural industries through Every Club Grant funding saw over 80% of bowling clubs in WA receive face to face support through specific training workshops available via the Winning Drive program.

One club, which has enjoyed benefits the Winning Drive program can offer, was the Pinjarra Bowling and Recreation Club Inc. The arrival of Winning Drive coincided with the club looking to improve its position within the local community and areas of club governance.

Club Secretary Jan Hall talked to us about Pinjarra’s involvement.

“The club already had the intent to start looking more strategically at what we do. The Top Club program, which was one of the offerings within the Winning Drive program, came along at a good time for us. It really gave us a platform and was a handy, efficient and time effective tool to get things started. The other benefit we got was that the questionnaire, which is the initial steps of the program, received good buy-in from members and we really learnt a lot from that. We were able to continue to engage with the members through the entire strategic planning process to make sure the plan we finished with demonstrated a real club commitment to what the members wanted.”

The outcome for Pinjarra was that they had a clear vision moving forward in several key areas. The club was able to update their Club Constitution and produce a Strategic Plan for 2019-2024, which will continue to guide them moving forward. Both of these documents were produced with input from Regional Bowls Manager Steve Unsworth, who is heavily involved in the Winning Drive program along with his regular duties in delivering Bowls Australia support programs to clubs.

Other areas of club improvement that Pinjarra were able to work on were as follows:

  • Member Communication and Services – the club has;
    • Developed and implemented of a Member Code of Conduct;
    • Produce a monthly newsletter;
    • Expanded the club noticeboard;
    • Developed a new member induction pack;
    • Implemented a stronger focus on club volunteers;
    • Trained four new bowls coaches as part of a strategy to integrate new bowlers into competition; and,
    • has seen a happier, inclusive and a more vibrant club.
  • Club Promotions – The club received a grant to develop modern logo and promotional material, which was launched at a Club Open Day early in the year. Since then, the club;
    • Conducts targeted and proactive club promotion throughout the community;
    • Developed a new club website and Facebook page;
    • Increased club social activities; and,
    • Engaged a local chef who assists with some club social events and community functions, with the view to increasing as demand dictates.
  • Engagement with Local Government – the club strengthened relationships with the Shire of Murray President, CEO, the Sport and Recreation Officer, The Youth Officer, The Manager of Governance and the Community Development Officer,. This led increased opportunities to strengthen networks and contribute to community decision-making. The club is keen to continue to add value to the Shire as a community resource.
  • Engaged with local Community Groups and Business – the club sent letters to all local community organisations promoting partnership opportunities and the club as a venue for business functions, networking and workshops. This has resulted with increased bookings. The club was also able to maintain its strong community bowls programs and increase its levels of sponsorship.
  • Engagement with local schools – for the first time the club hosted the local high school as part of the school’s sports curriculum. 140 students participated in an innovative introductory to bowls program, twice a week across two terms. A total of 19 weeks or 950 student hours of lawn bowls.

The club, through our strategic review, made a conscious decision to be proactive in encouraging new people of all ages and backgrounds into the club and making them feel welcome. “A real highlight for us was the special needs students as part of the High School Learning Enrichment Team curriculum. Seeing these kids being able to improve their bowling skills and the enjoyment they got out of playing was a real delight for us. We are hoping they will be back in 2020.” Jan commented.

All these improvements have seen the club become a more diverse, social and recreational club, which increased its membership to new levels.

“We have picked up 70 new members this year, inclusive of 20 bowlers and 50 social members, but more importantly we are now strongly connected with our community.” Jan Hall said. “Looking to the future we have commenced a feasibility study, which we anticipate will underpin a solid business case for a new enclosed green. We been have also initiated a networking strategy with our sports neighbours who share the Ross McLarty Sporting precinct with us. We believe that strong partnerships will greatly assist collaborative efforts to build a great sporting precinct for the communities’ benefit.”

“We look forward to seeing what programs and workshops we can use with Winning Drive next year to continue this path we are on.”

As part of the review process for Winning Drive, Bowls WA will soon send all affiliated Western Australian Bowling Clubs a survey to gauge interest in further club development and governance areas before a new schedule of programs for Winning Drive in released in early 2020.