STUDENTS at Commonweal have had a taste of a sport often regarded as a retired person's hobby.

Members of Westlecott Bowls club were at the school recently to deliver taster sessions and to dispel the myth that bowls isn't popular with young people.

Jane Wilson the club’s ladies captain told pupils how satellite clubs specifically target the 11 - 25 age group and it is part of Sport England’s strategy to engage young people, many of whom drop-out of sport during or shortly after secondary schooling.

"They also provide an opportunity to try sports they might otherwise not come across and can be the stepping stone to a community club for regular participation," she said.

Westlecot established connections to Commonweal with several members having been either previous staff or students.

The Club Coach at Westlecot is Gary Jackson, a former student at Commonweal and together with volunteers from the club will work in partnership with the school.

The Satellite Club arrangement involves subsidies from Sport England for 12 sessions in the first year and will continue for three years.

“I began my coaching career once I left Commonweal, taking a course at Swindon College for Sports Coaching," said Gary who left Commonweal in 2009.

" I took my passion for coaching into bowls and became a part of the Bowls Development Alliance, a group dedicated to top quality coaching within Bowls. I qualified as a Level 2 coach in 2015 and was recognised by Bowls England, the National Governing Body for bowls for being one of the youngest coaches in the country at 23.

"As a result, I was asked to become the coach of the Under 18 Development Team. The team consists of the best Under 18’s in the whole of England. There are plans to play Scotland and Wales this year, and I will be leading coaching sessions for the England players to prepare them for these games.”

Youngsters were told how starting in school means there is no pressure on parents regarding travel to venues after school.

The first session, held last week during the school’s lunch break, attracted 30 young students from a range of year groups who all had their first attempts at the short mat version of the main game. Some also had some practice with bowling to a target game which is just for fun. Some students admitted their grandparents play the game but they didn't realise hundreds of young people across the country play the short mat version in leagues, travelling with the game and enjoying high levels of competition.

In the full game bowlers can play both Indoors and Outdoors depending on the season. Westlecot has juniors in the England Squad of under 25s with one of their young bowlers a recent runner up in a senior indoor tournament.