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Cardiff bowls club takes future into own hands

hso_bowls2_web A BOWLS club has taken on the responsibility of maintaining a 110-year-old green after being told it would have to pay £6,000 a year for its upkeep.

Based in Splott park, The Phoenix Bowls Club is the first club in the city to make the move since being told it would have to pay £6,300 to the council’s park department for green maintenance last December.

Faced with the prospect of raising membership fees to several hundred pounds for each of the 24 members, the club decided to take on the job themselves.

“Well you try dividing 6,000 by 24 and see what you get,” said club secretary Martyn Watts.

He continued: “How could we ask people to pay that? Why ask for the money [for work] that we could just do on our own time.”

To do the work the club had to buy its own industrial lawnmower as well as several other costly pieces of equipment the volunteers need to maintain the green Mr Watts said: “It’s a lot of work but we have a young guy giving his time freely to help out.

Mr Watts said: “We had to buy two and a half thousand pounds worth of equipment and some of the chemicals we have to pay out of house for. It takes a whole community to run something like this.”

Club members now only pay £10 to play on the green throughout the season. Full members pay £65 a year to compete in tournaments and go on day trips organised by the club.

But once the cost of the new equipment is covered Mr Watts expects the club can cut the fees by half by 2016.

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“It’s an ageing sport, well in Cardiff it’s an ageing sport. It’s still bringing in a younger crowd in the valleys. But we’re trying to get more people involved,” he said.

To try and bring more people into the club, the organisers have begun running free indoor classes during the off-season to give people a taste of the game.

The Club is also in the early stages of organising a club for students of Willows High School to bring teenagers into the game.

The first taster session is on Thursday 12 February at 10am with more sessions being held throughout the next three weeks.

The club’s season begins again in April and continues until September.

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