Fitzroy Victoria grows junior Pennant participation thanks to Roll Up

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

Fitzroy Victoria Bowling Club is one of a growing number of clubs to embrace Bowls Victoria’s new junior participation product, Roll Up – a fun, fast and social bowls program encouraging young people to get active through bowls – with promising early outcomes.

Fitzroy Victoria ran a Roll Up program in March-April 2019, with the current members of the Junior Development Squad formed in 2018 asked to invite school friends to participate in the four-week Roll Up program. As a flow-on advantage of this worthwhile program, Fitzroy Victoria Bowling Club has since seen a significant number of junior Roll Up participants convert to weekend Pennant players.

“As a result of the program, four new students played in our Winter Pennant program and each of them intends to play at least some games in our forthcoming Saturday and Midweek Pennant programs,” says Peter Hille, Bowls Development Officer at Fitzroy Victoria Bowls Club. 

“Furthermore, several others have committed to playing in the U18 Junior League in October-November this year. A parent of one of the Roll Up participants has also joined the club and will play Pennant this season with his young son. This recruitment via Roll Up bolsters the group of nine juniors who played Pennant with the club last season. Essentially kids already engaged invited friends to participate and several of the newcomers decided to transition to Pennant.”

Club benefits

What have been the major benefits of Roll Up to Fitzroy Victoria Bowling Club? 

“Giving our established junior squad the opportunity to invite school friends to Roll Up where they demonstrated, coached and co-hosted the program over four weeks. Several youngsters are going to do bowls coaching courses, with one recently elected to the Club Committee,” says Hille. 

“The club also had the opportunity to create a welcoming and fun environment for the young participants as well as parents who attended the sessions. Conversations about the club’s philosophy, objectives and standards were readily conducted. Family memberships were sold and parent networks broadened. Whilst a pathway to Pennant is clearly aided by Roll Up, there are further benefits to the club apart from that – greater participation of young people in the club, increased family participation, etc.”

School engagement

Moving forward, Hille believes it is important for the bowls club to engage with local schools and offer teachers a bowls program that will gain interest from juniors. 

 “In future Roll Up programs, Fitzroy Victoria will certainly engage more with local schools alongside asking our junior squad members to encourage school friends to participate. Building productive relationships with key school personnel is very important for the sustainability of Roll Up and indeed any junior bowls squads and programs,” he says.

Selling points

A key feature of the Roll Up program is its broad appeal to teachers and parents as well as the students themselves. While the existing members of Fitzroy Victoria’s Junior Development Squad were a selling point in themselves, the club also took up opportunities and suggestions provided by Bowls Victoria staff Clare Hockey. Features and highlights of the program included the following:

  • A fun environment with loud music (participants could use Spotify to take a turn at being DJ). 
  • All sessions finished with a pizza feed and a non-alcohol bar tab was provided throughout the sessions. 
  • Spot prizes were given out. 
  • Dancing on the green was encouraged. 
  • Parents in attendance were encouraged to have a bowl. 
  • Several club members provided extra coaching support. 
  • The kids were encouraged to explore the club inside and outside, develop a passion for the contest, and take photos of key moments. 
  • Game winners were acknowledged but there was no league table champion – instead, the club encouraged a mixing of rinks each week as a way of connecting the participants.

“Roll Up is a great program with lots of potential to grow youth participation in a great social sport,” Hille says.

If you would like more information about Roll Up, including how to become a Hub Club, please visit the Bowls Victoria website or contact:

Clare Hockey

Participation Coordinator (Roll Up)


t: (03) 9861 7100

Want to know more about Fitzroy Victoria Bowling Club?
Visit the club website here