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CLUB OF THE WEEK: Croquet club want to reach out to younger generation
6:00am Tuesday 17th September 2013 in Sport
SWINDON Croquet Club is trying to prove to potential members that the sport is not just the domain of mature citizens, writes LAURA LAMBERT.
The club, which received a grant of £42,000 from Sport England earlier this year, is aiming to grow further by convincing young players to take part.
Publicity officer Mary Bedells, who has been involved with the club for many years, revealed that the club was keen to grow as much as possible.
“We want to get more visitors to sign up as members and try and get more young people involved,” she said.
“We are desperately trying to shed the image of croquet as a vicar’s tea party by planning some weekend and evening sessions, so the working population can come here too.
“It’s been our best summer ever, both financially and socially. The funding we received has set us up for the future.”
The club welcomes all visitors and offers coaching for both golf and association croquet.
Golf croquet is the easier format and is typically the choice of less experienced players or those who are new to the sport. Association croquet takes longer and is far more complicated as it involves more complex tactics and rules that can take years to master.
In addition to private bookings of the lawns, there are club days on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, which often attract a strong turnout.
The club has taken over the maintenance of the lawns from the council and with a team of loyal supporters, the pitches are playing better than ever.
There is also the opportunity for players to participate in competitions and the club enters four leagues to cater for all levels of ability.
The federation team, for the most advanced players, has enjoyed recent success including reaching the semi-finals of the South West Federation league.
Club treasurer Neil Morrison credits team spirit for recent improvements and highlights the importance of the community projects which occupy a large portion of the club’s schedule.
“It’s a real team effort involved here at the club,” he said.
“Some of our club officers are here six times a week and we are twice as efficient as we used to be now we have more people and some more money.
“Our main ethos is to help the community and the driving force behind this has been John Airey. This year we have welcomed the Stroke Club, Hillier Care Group, City Socialising, Healthy Lives, Access Sports and many other groups.
“John has made special mallets to accommodate visually-impaired visitors and those in wheelchairs, and has also developed special equipment for indoor croquet.”
The next step for the club is to level out one of the main lawns, which will require an army of helpers and 10 tonnes of top dressing to be laid.
It is also hoped that the club will gain funding in the future that will allow them to enclose the grounds with secure fencing.
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