Lucas Trigg, 15, is one of the Wight Sharks.
BOWLS THE SERENE setting of a bowls green is hardly the obvious place you would expect a bunch of teenagers to hang out.
But at the IW Indoor Bowls Club on a Saturday morning that’s exactly where they flock, and it’s all down to the hard work and patience of a Seaview pensioner.
Jack Young, 78, is young by name and young by nature. And it is his approach to bowls and his way of teaching it to young people that has them engrossed. Now a steady stream of youngsters and teenagers are visiting every weekend to learn more skills and play more games.
The IW boasts a very strong junior set up, led by the incredible talents of Travis Meller and Adam Clark, who are forging careers on the junior international scene.
County coach Jack, who moved to the IW from Egham in 2003, mentors these two and other young players, including Robbi Hayes, Tansy Wheeler and Sam Lines in under-25s competitions, when they play under the banner of the Wight Sharks.
Many of these help Jack with his Saturday morning coaching sessions, which are open to all — as long as they behave themselves.
"In the old days it was known as 'old man’s marbles’ but now, when you go into any indoor club, you’ll find all ages. We have them from eight years old upwards," said Jack, whose wife, Anne, also helps. "They have all the different coloured bowls and it looks like they’ve scattered Smarties out there."
"I don’t bowl any more but then my life has been devoted to coaching bowling instead. You can look at somebody and see what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. It’s a very tactical game and there’s a lot more to it than people think.
"Its when you see the likes of Travis that you really see it. He’s a pleasure to watch.
"But it’s not just about that, it’s about how to integrate. They really do come on as young people, if you give them enough care and attention. I’ve never talked down to the kids, because they listen to you more if you don’t do that. I just love teaching the youngun’s and I’m really grateful to the club for supporting us so much."
When the County Press visited the club to see for themselves how the Saturday morning session was going, an important senior match was being played on the adjacent rink. The youngsters paid respect to the seniors by keeping themselves to themselves and not making any noise which would distract them.
Among the 15-strong group were members of the Wight Sharks as well as a group of very young learners, including Aaron Scott-Roberts, nine, who enjoys all kinds of sports.
He splits his time between badminton and squash but now lists bowls as one of his favourites.
"I like it because you really have to think about where you put your bowl, and I like hitting the jack."
Mum Tina, who brought him along after coming to an open day, said it was proving an exceptional tool to help him with his autistic spectrum disorder, Aspergers and ADHD. "He gets to blow off steam with his other sports but this is so calm and precise and I think that helps him. He’s really picked it up quickly."
Arife Sen-White, 12, Emily White, 12, and Fabien White, 17, were there practising with their grandmother, Cate, for the first time. They wanted to try something they could all play. Cate added: "The coaches here are marvellous and very patient."
The club is in need of sponsorship for the Wight Sharks to be able to travel to away games, and their trip to the Channel Islands every two years to play Guernsey Tigers.
Anyone interested in helping or finding out more, can e-mail Jack on firstname.lastname@example.org