Dispel the image of lawn bowls being the sole preserve of old age pensioners. The new generation of rolling a ball quite slowly along a square of pristine grass has arrived in London — and this time it involves nudity (well, naked feet).
On 28 May over 150 ‘barefoot bowlers’ will congregate on Finsbury Square for a casual lawn bowls tournament. The organisers — childhood friends Will Goy of Barefoot Sports and Sam Parton from OpenPlay — are touting the event as a springboard for a wider UK launch of a more youthful take on bowls.
Will and Sam told Londonist: “We’ve played table tennis, darts, indoor golf and snooker, but felt we needed a relaxed outdoor sport for the forthcoming summer months. There are few sports which can combined with a couple of drinks and lawn bowls is ideal.”
Barefoot bowls isn’t new: the concept was devised in Australia over a decade ago. But now, the pair reckon London is ripe to embrace this new generation of a traditional English sport. Say the organisers: "It offers a social, colourful, dressed down and casual format of the sport where the onus is on having fun with friends of all ages. It is steering away from the traditional all white, members only, which typifies the UK’s 5,000 bowling greens."
There’s an important wider message: around half of the country's bowling greens are under threat and Barefoot Bowls hopes to get the ball rolling on remedying this.
Will and Sam’s plan to run three Barefoot Bowls events in London this summer, before expanding elsewhere. If you like the sound of slipping off your shoes and feeling the (very short) grass between your toes, you can find more information on the Barefoot Bowls website.