Lighthouse Club – Werribee BC

by Team BV

Werribee Bowls Club is a shining example of how a bowls club can reach out to the community and get results.
A strong relationship with the local Council, building relationships with the area’s culturally diverse community, and welcoming everyone from primary and secondary schools to scout groups and emergency services to give them a taste of bowls has paid dividends.
What Werribee has done is this.
The club has got to know its community and its make-up. It’s got to know Wyndham City Council, what it wants from sporting clubs and how its grant application process works. It’s got to know Bowls Victoria and its Participation and Development team – and how they can help. It’s worked closely with its Regional Bowls Manager Paul Holtschke, who has provided guidance in relation to strategies to move the club forward and the grants available through Bowls Victoria’s funding partner VicHealth and via other outlets for affiliated Bowls Victoria clubs.
Werribee has made sure key elements of its strategy to boost membership and establish itself as an inclusive, diverse community hub, align with the wants and needs of those community stakeholders.
Werribee is based in Melbourne’s fast-expanding western suburbs – right at its heart.
Like a growing number of bowls clubs, Werribee realises that it must embrace its community to remain relevant and ensure its future.
“The club is very fortunate as it is well established with strong governance and has a very good team of volunteers who each bring varying skillsets,” Werribee club representative Jim Rayner says.
“Werribee is not just a group of people who enjoy bowls. It is a bowls community where people not only enjoy their time on the green but have the opportunity to volunteer in various capacities.
“It’s a team effort. The club has a strategic development plan that it’s working towards. We have three lovely greens, a great setting and the club’s well set up financially.
“It’s a matter of building on these positives going forward. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. The club continues to work hard to attract new bowlers to ensure its long-term sustainability – be they barefoot, social or pennant bowlers and to promote the club as a multi-purpose facility.
“Green fees alone are no longer sufficient to run a club with an ever-increasing cost base. Clubs need to seek other sources of revenue.”
Werribee has enjoyed great success involving its diverse local community in bowls. A recent CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) program was the talk of the town as more than 130 people from different backgrounds visited the club to be introduced to the sport on one day alone.
The club has an active schools program and during 2016 hosted students from local secondary schools to play bowls. They are actively engaging with local primary schools to ascertain interest in participating in the 2017 School Sport Victoria Primary Championships scheduled for March and April 2017.
The club also promotes Jack Attack – a shortened version of the sport. It’s running a Jack Attack competition commencing on February 3 over a four-week period with cash prizes and medallions as prizes to winners and runners-up to encourage community participation.
Werribee promotes bowls by taking their mobile bowls stand to local festivals and community centres to give people – many newly arrived in Australia – a look at a sport most have never seen and distribute flyers for coming events.
Werribee says it’s a chance to introduce people to the sport and promote all the benefits playing sport can bring, plus a chance for migrant communities to improve their social skills and meet new people as they learn something new.
The club also embraces barefoot bowls – and it’s booming. In December, more than 1,200 people are booked into the club for Christmas functions or to play barefoot bowls.
“Werribee wants to ensure that each of our visitors has a great experience and returns as a bowler – be it barefoot, social or pennant, for a function, or even as a sponsor,” Jim says.
“It’s a growing club. This year Werribee has seven teams playing Saturday pennant which is fantastic.”
Werribee is active on social media platform Twitter particularly – finding it hits the right spot for those it is trying to attract, while the implementation of Team App has improved communication within the club.
Werribee is also a regular user of Bowls Victoria’s Club Upcoming Events Schedule to promote its events – a free service for Bowls Victoria-affiliated clubs to promote their tournaments and allow clubs to help themselves  in attracting full greens.
Embracing community has also had its spin-offs for the club, with Wyndham City Council an enthusiastic supporter of its community efforts.
A $5,000 Council grant is to assist with the club’s diversity and inclusion efforts. The Council also funded 70 solar panels for the club to help shave electricity costs – the savings of which will be used to offset the replacement cost of a synthetic green when required.
A $3,000 VicHealth Active Club Grant has helped in the purchase of 20 sets of new bowls, which has been instrumental in the creation of interest for new bowlers as the coloured bowls make it easier for players to identify their bowls.
“Werribee are fantastic because they’re trying something different and they aren’t just sitting around waiting for something to happen,” says Bowls Victoria’s Participation and Club Development manager Scott Nicholas.
“They’re proactive, they’ve got great relationships with their council and other groups and the success is clear, they’ve got lots of different people bowling.”
Long-term, the club wants to build on its already impressive membership of more than 200, plus build a roof over one green to allow for all-weather, all-year  play and make the club even more of a community hub.
“It’s a dream,” Jim says.
“Obviously this project will require significant funds and Council assistance from a funding perspective. However, if Council continue to see the club is engaging with the community, working with different groups and working towards achievement of the club’s strategic objectives, the club is sure Council will see that Werribee has a strategy that aligns with theirs.”