Lighthouse clubs – Highett BC
Highett didn’t know what hit it.
Here was a club of 36 Pennant-playing members, with more than 35 newcomers from outside the club filling their greens for their new Thursday night Jack Attack program.
“I couldn’t believe we’d managed this,” says Highett BC’s Lillith Collins.
“All of a sudden we’d got 14 teams.”
In reality, Highett had worked desperately hard to achieve such a strong outcome. It took a determined, long view approach to make their four-week Jack Attack program a success.
Setting up a Jack Attack/recruitment committee to oversee the program. Getting help from their Regional Bowls Manager Barrie Lester to introduce Jack Attack to the club and finding it was actually what they needed.
Going out and discovering where to look to attract new people.
Getting a core group of barefoot bowlers to be part of the tournament, and thereby bringing others into the sport for a taste of it.
And gaining support from Bowls Victoria and VicHealth in their endeavours.
Based in Melbourne’s south-east, Highett is among a select group of clubs piloting a Jack Attack program as part of Bowls Victoria’s partnership with VicHealth to get more Victorian adults who are inactive or somewhat active, more active through participation in social bowls.
Highett’s small size meant they were ideal for the pilot, and Bowls Victoria’s Participation and Club Development Manager Scott Nicholas says they should be a role model for all clubs.
‘’Highett are a perfect example that a program like Jack Attack isn’t just reserved for big clubs. They’ve worked hard and a lot of that goes back to the fantastic support provided by the committee.
“They decided what their biggest opportunities to connect with the community were, and developed a targeted approach to get them involved. As a small club they’ve done a brilliant job and got the results.”
They’ve also had positive membership spinoffs, with four or five new members directly joining the club as a result of the Jack Attack program. For Highett, that’s a 15% membership increase over a month.
As well as open days and a thriving barefoot bowls scene, Highett BC has also done a lot of work with guidance from Lester, the Regional Bowls Manager and an Australian representative, towards turning itself into a community hub, not just a bowls club.
And in an area which is growing, primarily as a result of many new townhouse developments in and around Highett, the club senses an opportunity and is taking it.
What would their advice be to other clubs considering introducing Jack Attack?
“Get a committee together and share the workload,” says Lillith.
“Have the bigger picture in mind of what does your recruitment need – Open Days, barefoot bowls, Jack Attack.
“And by increasing contacts, we found it increased the amount of people signing up (as members) and also offering things (like prizes for the Jack Attack competition).”