Meet the Locals: Anglesea Bowls Club President Ben Coyle
With their brand new one million dollar clubhouse that opened in 2018, stunning playing greens and delightful surroundings, Anglesea Bowling Club is a lawn bowler’s dream.
I recently had a chat with the new president and Anglesea resident, Ben Coyle, about the revitalised club.
Thanks for the chat, Ben. How long have you been in Anglesea?
I’ve been in Anglesea for over ten years. I’ve travelled the world and Anglesea is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I enjoy the beach, and it was always a dream of mine to live near the ocean. Before that, I was in Footscray, running a cafe/bar/music venue. However, I was originally a drug dog handler and worked on the boats for what is now called Border Force. When the pandemic hit, I was in Morocco, taking people on tours of Marrakech on motorbikes and sidecars. I was planning on coming home eventually, but it forced me back earlier. Now I’m studying for a Diploma in Counselling.
A varied career! So how did you get involved with the Anglesea Bowls Club?
If you told me as a bar owner in Footscray that I’d ever take up the sport of bowls, let alone be the president of a bowling club, I’d have said you’re crazy! When I lived in Melbourne, I had the odd game of barefoot bowls and enjoyed it, but that was about all. Then seven years ago, I popped into the Anglesea Bowls Club and I was asked if I wanted to become a member. I was then invited to fill in on one of the teams, knowing I would love it. I’m now I’m one of the skips for the competition team. It’s very competitive but also very friendly, and the sandwiches at halftime are an absolute highlight for me.
What do you love about the sport?
It’s a very inclusive sport. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or background – everybody can play. There aren’t too many sports where a 40-year-old father can play competitively with or against his 10-year-old daughter. Grandparents can play with their grandkids. Last week, we had a fifty-year-old mother and her teenage son come and bowl together. They both loved it.
What made you interested you in taking on the role of President of the Anglesea Bowls Club?
I was a director on the club’s board, so I’ve seen the benefits the club brings to the community. We are now focusing on bringing in more youth. Nationwide, clubs struggle to get younger players. However, once they start playing, they realise that it is an excellent sport. The world and the Australian champions are generally between their mid-twenties and fifties – so not old at all. Like Twenty20 cricket, a lot changes have been made to make the sport in more exciting and colourful. Even in the short time I’ve been involved, I’ve seen changes.
Just researching the market?
How do you plan on getting young people on board?
I’m in the process of organising a summer program for children and young adults. There have been studies into the benefits of older people hanging out with younger people. I’ve experienced it myself, even as a middle-aged man! Our members are a vibrant bunch of people who all have their own interesting stories and connections to share. Fostering these relationships also helps young people with their social skills and self-esteem.
The new building is fabulous. Can you tell us about the unique space and how it benefits the community?
The club already does some excellent community work – hosting movie days for the elderly and fundraising for the local primary school. However, I also want to focus on how we can get the most out of our new facilities. We offer social bowls on Friday afternoons and barefoot bowls in the warmer months. Everybody is welcome.
Thanks for telling me about the club, and the benefits of bowls, Ben. I’m tempted to give it a go myself. Might see you one Friday afternoon down the club!
Find out more on the Anglesea Bowling Club Facebook page.