Bennettswood finds success with diversity open day

by Lachlan Williams

A Victorian bowls club is taking steps to introduce people of different cultures to the sport, while at the same time growing their membership base.

Bennettswood Bowls Club, in Melbourne’s east, recently held an event to welcome people from their area’s Chinese community.

More than 100 people attended the open day, aiming to educate people from the community about the club as well as about the sport of bowls.

“The original idea was to recruit more members, as well as to give some exposure to the club for people wanting to hire for functions,” Bennettswood deputy chair Peter Herring said.

“We also had a focus on becoming more multicultural. Whitehorse (local council area) has quite a high Asian demographic, so there was a clear opportunity to introduce a lot of that community to bowls that mightn’t have heard of it before.”

Working with Bowls Australia and Federal MP for Chisholm Gladys Liu, the idea of a “simple bowls open day” was created.

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“With free finger food, discounted drinks and free bowls, we hoped to get about 40-50 people involved,” Herring said.

“In the end in the lead up to the event we had to knock people back because we had so many coming. We had about 130 people in the end.”

Herring said the event could not have gone much better, with the participants enjoying themselves and the club seeing benefits too.

“They all had a ball. Paul Holtschke (BA Regional Bowls Manager) did a great job showing everyone how to bowl,” he said.

“We would expect to convert about 10 per cent of attendees into members, and hope to see hiring of our rooms for events also increase in the next 6-12 months.

“We will hold a follow up event with more of a bowls focus.”

Ms Liu was full of praise for the event.

“It was great to visit Bennettswood Bowls Club and see their amazing outreach in to Chisholm’s multi-cultural communities,” she said.

“I was pleased that I was able to do my bit and organise some help on the day.”

“I want to thank all the volunteers that gave up their time to make the day such a success.”