Bowls is for everyone, says new Keighley-based British president Chris Hasselby

Keighley News: Chris Hasselby is relishing his role as president of the Britsh Crown Green Bowling Association Buy this photo » Chris Hasselby is relishing his role as president of the Britsh Crown Green Bowling Association

Spreading the message that bowls is a sport for all ages is one of the main aims of Keighley’s Chris Hasselby during his year as president of the British Crown Green Bowling Association.

The 66-year-old, who said it was a big honour to take up the role for 2014, wants to get rid of the perception that the game is just for old people.

“I want to make sure we keep the young ones coming into the game,” said the Keighley Bowling Club member.

“Television presents a picture of just old people playing bowls but that isn’t the case.

“There are a lot of older folk who enjoy it but there are also a hell of a lot of young players too. I’ve seen four and five-year-olds playing and they are not daunted.”

Chris took the game up as a 20-year-old before work commitments saw him move abroad but he has been a regular player for well over two decades.

For much of that period, he was a member at Yeadon-based Tarnfield BC but, after a spell with Myrtle Park, he moved to Keighley BC around three years ago.

His role as president of the amateur game’s authority promises to be all-consuming.

Attendance at county matches across the country, chairing association meetings and fulfilling numerous dinner-function duties are just part of his remit. He will also oversee the British finals at Cleckheaton on July 26.

It is a huge commitment but his wife Christine – a county bowler – is just as passionate about the sport.

Chris said: “I’ll be travelling the length and breadth of the country and will not have a free Sunday from the end of March through to October. Thankfully, my wife is very understanding.”

Like Christine, Chris is captain of one of Keighley’s league teams and will still be playing several times a week.

Asked what he liked about the game, he said: “Everything. The social side is really good.

“You get to meet a lot of different people but there is also a strong competitive element. Nobody likes to lose at bowls!”

The retired engineer, who is from Ilkley but has lived in Keighley for over 20 years, already has plenty of experience in helping to administer amateur bowls.

He was Yorkshire president in 2011 and holds other positions, including secretary of the county’s referees’ society.

Chris, who is a qualified referee, is hoping this year goes as well as his time at the county helm, when Yorkshire won a clean sweep of titles for the first time.

* The local bowling community is mourning the loss of several well-known personalities in recent weeks.

Alan Ripley, Bill Watson and Brian Firth have passed away, as has Pat White, of Wilsden, who also played for Keighley BC and Craven, and Keighley stalwart Stanley Hardacre OBE.

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