Louisa shows bowls can be a young person’s sport

Louisa Pratt, with Nicola Preston,left, and Jenny Tappin at the Alexandra Bowls Centre in 2005
Louisa Pratt, with Nicola Preston,left, and Jenny Tappin at the Alexandra Bowls Centre in 2005

TEENAGER Louisa Pratt may be left with mixed feelings when she goes to college later this year.

For while the 18-year-old is looking forward to studying forensic chemistry at Teesside University,it may also mean she will have less opportunity to play bowls - the sport she has loved for the past 12 years.

It was at the age of six that Louisa was introduced to crown green bowls by her grandparents and was amazed at how much she liked it. Soon afterwards she joined the Jumping Jacks club for under-18s at the then Alexandra Bowls Centre in Scarborough.

Louisa said: “Scarborough Bowls Centre is like my second home.I have made so many friends from all age groups and from different places.

“I love the game,it is great fun and definitely not just for older people. Many of the friends I have made will be friends for life.”

One of Louisa’s proudest moments was on her 18th birthday earlier this year, when she won the annual 2-wood triples tournament for under-18s with teammates Jack Bird and Ben Holt. The event, which was hosted by Scarborough attracted teams

from Darlington, York, Hornsea, Selby and Thornaby.

“It was quite a tough competition,” she said, “but it was fantastic to win, especially on my birthday.”

Louisa is quite critical of some bowls clubs who do not seem to encourage young people to join them.

“They need to realise that today’s youngsters are the future of the game and need to be brought into the game and then constantly encouraged and supported.

“It’s a fantastic and affordable alternative sport for young people like myself who don’t regard themselves as natural athletes”

“I have been so lucky living in Scarborough. Under the leadership of Mike Preston, the under-18s are given every opportunity to try the sport.

“Younger members meet for two hours on Saturdays when they enjoy practice games and coaching. There are also ‘come and try it events’ and schools and youth organisations visit the centre.”

Under-18s leader Mike Preston said: “Louisa has been a great team member and this season has carried out the duties of under-18s captain with enthusiasm and flair .

“She is a great supporter of all the other juniors and we are delighted that during the coming months she will be playing as an adult in the Junior Development League.

“Each triples team in this league consists of two adults and one junior and each week the junior member is given the opportunity to be lead bowler, position two and skip. This is great experience for them especially when they have to tell the adults what to do”

Even though Louisa will be moving away from her beloved Scarborough Bowls Centre, she will continue bowling as she hopes to become a member of the Thornaby club where she has already played against some of the members.

Her ambition is to follow in the footsteps of another Scarborough girl, Carole McLean, who also progressed through the under-18s section and now represents England around the world.