My Passion With David Birks

David Birks, Gazelles Hunter for business support group Connect Gazelles, on his passion for crown green bowling.

I USED to play football professionally and was involved in the Barnsley set-up in 2002 under Glen Hodges but my real enduring passion is for the game of crown green bowling that is hugely relaxing and a world away from the cut and thrust of business.

It’s a sport I was introduced to by my grandparents at the age of ten and I’ve been dedicated to it ever since, playing with the Armley Conservative Club in the Bradford League, which includes home and away matches across West Yorkshire.

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I also play on a Tuesday with Holbeck Moor in Division 1 – they recruited me recently to join their top division team to link up with top county bowlers. It’s a huge and exciting challenge as I am up against the best in the country.

I’ve always been competitive – an ideal attribute for a successful career in sales – and my involvement with crown green bowling is no exception; from the age of ten to 14 I was youth champion and since playing for the main team I have won best player five times. I play every Saturday in the league game and socially with my grandparents, twice a week during the light evenings.

The season runs March/April to October then the greens close for winter and I really miss the game during those downtime months.

It’s unfortunate that the game is in decline with so many social clubs having to close due to lack of funds; adult players range from 35s to OAPs and there are youth teams for the Under 14s, as it’s very much a sport for both genders of all ages.

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It’s relaxing and fun plus good exercise and a great social game. I have been around the players at our club for nearly 20 years now so I feel I have grown up with them and it’s like an extended family. I’m very close to my grandparents and it’s a great way to spend quality time with them too.

When I moved to Ireland four years ago I played for a Dublin team for two years; after a hard day’s work, it’s a great way to unwind, socialise and develop a skill plus it ticks my competitive box! I highly recommend it.

I love the Armley club, there’s such a great atmosphere – in today’s world of social media and texting, sitting down with a cross-section of people of all ages with a common interest is very rewarding. I introduced my girlfriend to the sport recently, she went to her first game to watch last month and has come to most games since. My aim is to mould her into a player to join the ladies team but this weather is not helping. But for me, come rain or shine, I’m outdoors competing. It’s a world away from the busy hectic life of town living.

For the future, my goal is to captain the team and be able to play to a high level across the region as well as champion the sport to the up and coming generation.