THE recent announcement of the partnership between Aero Bowls, a worldwide bowling brand, and Barry Athletic represents the first step in implementing a transformation plan to develop the the club and the sport, by appealing to a wider audience, and the community.
There are many unhelpful misconceptions about the game of bowls, and the new management committee at Barry Athletic are determined to peel back these misconceptions about the game being a sport for old men, and played in stuffy blazers and flannels.
It's true that this might have been an aspect of the game many years ago, but the game, like so many other sports, has moved on significantly over the past years.
Think of it more as a fun and competitive sport played in the glorious outdoors through the summer in good company and with an opportunity to build life long friendships, and offers the numerous health benefits that regular outdoor activity can bring.
Of course, at its top level, the sport of bowls can be competitive and Barry Athletic are no strangers to success at the top level of competition, having produced many excellent players and administrators that have gone on to represent the club on the international stage, and brought back many international titles and medals to Barry.
The club itself has achieved notable successes through its history and regularly competes at the top level of bowls in Wales.
The new management committee are determined to build on this legacy by implementing an ambitious transformation plan with the aim of building a great club for its members and for the community.
This year will see the introduction of an exciting range of new club wear in club colours including top quality playing shirts and jackets which will be provided free for all playing members, and brought about by the generous sponsorship packages from local businesses.
A new junior development programme supported by Sport Wales funding and links with the schools will provide opportunities for a new age group to take their first steps on the top quality green at Barry Island, and there are well advanced plans to develop a bowls academy for the younger generation that will reach out across South Wales
Investment in facilities at the club will not be overlooked either with a renovation and redecoration programme already completed in the pavilion and changing rooms, and the club will continue to invest significantly in its playing surface ensuring that it remains one of the best playing surfaces in Wales.
These changes will not only benefit the members but the community too as the club continues to offer its facilities to well deserving groups such as the Barry War Veterans group, giving a little back to the community that has supported the club so well over many years.
A new website and a modern social media strategy will ensure that the club is visible and accessible to the digital world, and there are early plans to bring the world to Barry too in the next couple of years as the club bids to hold world championship qualifiers which will see some of the very best players grace the Barry Island green.
Commenting on the ambitious plans, Richard Bowen, club chairman, said: "The members are very fortunate at Barry Athletic to have inherited a good club, built up over many years by our previous members; we treasure that legacy and we are determined to build on it with our ambitious plans.
"We all know that it will take hard work and will not be achieved quickly - that is why we have put in place a five year plan to achieve everything that we need in order to build a great club.
"We have made a positive start to that plan and I am sure that this first phase will give us greater momentum to build incrementally over the next few seasons.
Richard also emphasised the important role that businesses have played in the plans: “Ensuring we had the right level of financial support was important, and we are fortunate to work with a number of fantastic local businesses that have helped us put in place the financial foundation that underpins our ambitions”
The new season will begin in April and Barry Athletic are delighted to welcome the secretary of state for Wales, Alun Cairns MP, who will formally open the green on Saturday, April 15.
On that day, the club will also be hosting an open day where everyone will be welcome to try some of the great products that Aero Bowls produce; top players from across the UK will be in attendance too helping to demonstrate the products and help with some one-to-one coaching.
Whether new to the game or an established player, everyone will be welcomed at the club, and hopefully they will want to join in the transformation at Barry Athletic, helping the club to build from “good to great”.