NEWS: Professional Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell gets ready for September fights

By Erdington Local news team

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell is “loving” life as a professional and keeping busy with two fights this month – his first taking place at Planet Ice in Solihull on Saturday 9 September.

Fighting in the All of the Lights tournament, presented by Tommy Owens Promotions LTD, Farell will appear as an undercard on a bill of lightweight boxers from across the country – including Nottingham’s Delmar Thomas and Dudley’s Ryan Griffiths.

For more information and links to online tickets sales for All of the Lights, click here.

Niall Farell, a former Team GB member, swapped fighting for his country across the world to enter the professional ranks earlier this year and made an impressive start with unbeaten 2-0 record.

The 25-year-old is still training at Second City Boxing, Kingstanding, and has appointed Birmingham veteran John Pegg as his manager to navigate the notoriously slippery world of the fight game.

He told Erdington Local: “I hopefully will be 4-0 by the end of the month, and then hope to fight another twice before the end of the year.

“I am loving being a pro-fighter now; I always have a date to fight, and I am learning every day and I am keeping busy.”

He added: “The lightweight division has some of the best pound for pound fighters in the world and I am just starting out, so I am just concentrating on the next fight.”

Niall is fighting on Saturday 9 Septemebr at Solihull’s Planet Ice. A key component of being a pro-fighter is being a “ticket seller” and ‘Wacka Farrell’ has already amassed a big following from Kingstanding.

He said: “I am not sure how many I’ve sold but I know there is a coach leaving Kingstanding for Solihull. I am so grateful to everyone who supports me, now I am professional people will be able to see me locally instead of me flying all over the world in amateur tournaments.”

Saturday’s opponent was meant to be Niall’s toughest test yet, Logan Paling, but he has had to rearrange the bout for Thursday, 28 September at Cannock’s Bar Sport.

Niall said: “I am not sure who my opponent is on Saturday (9 September), but I can’t wait to get back in the ring. The difference from amateur three bout fights and longer professional fights is it’s not such a big rush, I can take my time.”

Niall decided to turn professional after a controversial decision ended his dream of winning gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games in his own city.

He said: “I had a great amateur career, fighting for your country all over the world is a great experience. It gave me a profile which is helping me as a pro and the bonds I made with the boxers who were my teammates are still there.” 

Niall still helps out at Black Country homeless charity The Good Shepherd regularly and enjoyed running Second City’s summer children’s camp in the school holidays.

He said: “We will be doing more summer camps because it was a real success, it was not just about boxing but it was nice to see some of the children join the club afterwards.”

Click on the links to follow Niall Farrell on social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

For more on Second City Boxing visit www.facebook.com/Second-City-Boxing-Club

NEWS: Kingstanding’s 16 year old Gene Smith wins bronze medal at Muay Thai WBC Junior World Championships in Italy

Pics supplied by K-Star Academy

Kingstanding’s Gene Smith has won the bronze medal at the WBC World Muay Thai Festival championships in Italy, after his final fight on Saturday 24 June.

The 16-year-old, his father Roland Smith, and his Collage Road based K-Star Academy trainer Steve Logan flew to Venice earlier this month to join 600 elite adult and youth athletes.

The national junior champion, who became the WKA British Champion (under 60kg) earlier this year – after a last minute call to compete, joined Team England for the opening ceremony in which 90 countries from across the world were represented.

Gene missed out on the gold medal bout after suffering a brutal injury during the semi-final on Friday 23 June, against Scottish fighter Kyle Donnelly. Then on the Saturday, the Kingstanding Thai boxer beat Michael Rambert from the French Atlantic outpost Reunion Island to take home the bronze.

His father Roland said: “Gene fought a great fight, easily taking the first round and impressing his coach – seemingly like the fight would easily be in the bag. Sadly, at the beginning of second round Gene took a sharp groin kick witch he couldn’t recover from and in turn lost the fight.

He added: “He displayed high levels of ability as a world class junior fighter. His opponent came out to try and take his head off, but Gene controlled the speed and direction of the fight putting his opponent of the deck four times during the bout.

“As WBC introduced some rules taking away some of the Thai boxing options with sweeps etc, to maintain athletes’ safety and ensure no dramatic injuries occurred during this mammoth event, Gene still managed huge composure with a fantastic display of ability and skill winning on a unanimous decision to achieve bronze.

“Ever since Gene won the English championship away, with six hours notice, we have had a lot of fighters pull out of bouts which has been very disappointing.

“But coming to Venice will really improve him as an athlete.”

Mixing with the world’s best Muay Thai athletes – some of which recognised and greeted Gene throughout the festival – attending WBC seminars about a whole host of issues surround the sport, and representing his country, will a lasting impression on the young fighter.

Gene said: “It was great being part of such a big international sporting event. But I especially love representing my country and the team dynamic. We are all supporting each other and watching each other’s fights.”

Founder of K-Star Academy and Gene’s trainer, Steve Logan, believes Gene’s international odyssey will inspire the next generation.

He said: “Gene bringing the bronze medal back to K-Star Thai Boxing Academy in Kingstanding will expand their horizons.

“He showed a lot of skill and bravery.”

Any sponsors interested in helping Gene Smith should email design@artattack.org.uk

For more on K Star Academy visit www.k-starthaiboxing.com

NEWS: Kingstanding K-Star Academy prepares 16 year old Muay Thai British champion for world title contest

Pics supplied by K-Star Academy

A talented Muay Thai fighter from Kingstanding’s K-Star Fight Academy is undergoing his final preparations for the WBC Junior World Championships in Italy.

Gene Smith, now WKA British Champion (under 60kg), and his team fly out on Tuesday, June 20, to Venice to compete with the world’s best fighters.

However, the dedicated 16-year-old is required to pay his own way to the two week overseas competition and fund his own hotel and training facilities.

In March, Gene notched up the most impressive win of his fledgling career when he won his recent British title after taking an away bout against an opponent with just six hours notice.

After a last minute call to compete, and squeezing in a family party and a morning at work before heading to the championship in Warrington, Smith defeated his opponent with grit, determination, and some excellently placed reverse elbow shots.

Since that win Gene has had several opponents pull out of bouts, so testing himself against the world’s best in Venice is key to his development.

Gene’s father Roland said: “Venice is an amazing opportunity as he will meet the best elite fighters from around the world at his weight to compete against.

“As he moves forward being part of such a prestige team like the England WBC proves his ability at the level he’s at.

“He competed to be part of it and he will be alongside the best of the best of the country’s Muay Thai fighters from the UK.

“However, we need sponsors so anyone who is interested in helping will get named on his fight shirts and on social media as he moves forward to his professional future in the sport. Being an elite athlete costs money whether it is his diet or training facilities.”

Gene, who is currently awaiting his GCSE results after finishing at Barr Beacon School, has taken confidence from his British title win.

He said: “I still can’t believe I took a fight with six hours notice against a world champion quality fighter and won. So, I am going to Venice on a bit of a high.

“It shows you have to be ready for anything in elite sports, fighting for my country is a really special feeling and I can’t wait to meet up with the rest of my teammates in Venice.

“This is an individual sport so when the opportunity comes to have that team dynamic it is really special, we all support one another.”

Gene previously fought in Canada and gained valuable experience despite not winning the tournament.

Gene’s trainer, Steve Logan, first started teaching Muay Thai back in 1989 out of the 610 Community Centre, Kingstanding.

His first gym was College Road in 1993 where Gene now instructs fighters as well as training for his own fights.

K-Star now has gyms in the city centre, Quinton, Sheldon, and Solihull – and are preparing to open a new training centre in Walsall this summer.

The now WKA British Champion Gene Smith has received sponsorship from Green Power Plant Hire, Jacksons Recovery, Foxstar Clothing, Beeches Recovery, Ucan Car Credit, 24/7 Exhibition Services, Dronesafe UK, Butler and Daughter Removals, and Level Group.

Any sponsors interested in helping Gene Smith as he prepares for the WBC Junior World Championship should email design@artattack.org.uk

For more on K-Star Academy visit www.k-starthaiboxing.com

FEATURE: League champions Erdington United bring home a double trophy haul

Words and pics by Liam Smith

Erdington United are celebrating another successful season in the Sutton & District League, bringing home a double trophy haul, finishing as champions of both Division One and the George Cup.

The league season has been a massive success, with United topping the table by four points. In the 16-game season, 12 wins and two draws saw the local side pick-up 38 points. Promotion from Division One will see them enter the Sutton & District Premier Division, the highest tier of the league ladder.

The league was sealed with a game to spare, with Erdington United only needing to win one of their remaining two games, after a tight 1-0 victory to league runners-up Romulus FC. This secures a trophy double for the season as well as back-to-back league titles.

Earlier in the season Erdington United claimed the George Cup. In February at Cole’s Lane, Erdington United took on Rosey Macs, another local club, in a fiercely contested final in front of a strong crowd. It was a hard-fought victory for Erdington which saw a late goal secure the cup winning 3-2.

It was not the only cup final Erdington United reached this season; a defeat at the Birmingham FA headquarters in the County Cup final to Trooper FC was disappointing for the players and supporters, however the bad result had a tough task of putting any dampeners on the season overall.

Erdington Local spoke with Tyler Ward, the club’s manager, who said: “Overall, the season has been very positive. The league and cup double is not something to be sniffed at. I said from the start that the league was a minimum for this season.”

Tyler added: “We wanted to win the County Cup, so obviously it was disappointing to lose in that final. However, it was a good learning experience for the lads.”

Oran Grigg, defender for Erdington United, told Erdington Local: “It was a good season, we had a lot of up and down results; had more have gone our way we could have secured the league earlier. Injuries, illnesses etc made this difficult also.

“The success we had in the George Cup final beating Rosey Macs coupled with the league win overall has made it a very successful season for us.”

In terms of their aspirations for next season, Erdington United will need to be playing at the top of their game, as the Premier Division will boast new difficult challenges.

Tyler continued: “We don’t want to just take part in the Premier Division next season. I think we’re good enough to mount a challenge and we will give it a good go.”

Thomas Gardiner, midfielder for Erdington United, added: “In terms of next season we are aware of the quality that is in that league.

“We know we will need to be at our best week in week out to compete with the step up in quality. Hopefully the core group of players sticking around for next season will support us in doing that.”

Erdington United will have a friendly pre-season tournament against several local rival teams in the summer, before beginning their Premier Division campaign in September. Home games are played at Holly Lane and information on their fixtures can be found on both their social media pages and the Fulltime FA website.

For more on Erdington United visit www.erdingtonunited.org

NEWS: Bagot Arms Golf Society hope to raise over £5000 for men’s mental health charity

Words & pics by Liam Smith

Preparations are being made by the Bagot Arms Golf Society ahead of their charity golf day on 21 July 2023, where organisers hope to raise over £5000 for a men’s mental health charity.

The event, which is taking place at Bromsgrove Golf Centre in Worcestershire, is in support of ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ – a nationwide campaign ‘which uses sporting themes to encourage people, particularly men, to talk about how they feel.’

According to the charity’s website, 5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, for example anxiety or depression. The website further states suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst males aged 15 to 29, and that three out of four of all suicides are men.

The Bagot Arms Golf Society, now operating out of Hollyfields Conference & Sports Centre in Pype Hayes, formed in 2009 out of the old Bagot Arms pub less than a mile away from Pype Hayes Golf Club.

The society have a history of organising and being a part of fundraising events and charity days, including a ’72 holes in one day’ challenge in aid of MacMillan which saw four members raise over £5,000 for the cancer charity.

They have also raised money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Tony Roche, founding member of the Bagot Arms Golf Society told Erdington Local: “Mental health issues can affect anyone and can be caused by several factors. Suicide continues to be three times more common in men than in women.”

Steven Smith, also a founding member and Pype Hayes resident, told: “Since our inception in 2009, we have always felt it important that we try to raise money for charities. It is an important part of our society.

“We have a day upcoming in July, which is fully booked, with 60 golfers in attendance and all 18 holes of the course generously sponsored by local businesses.”

The society are still actively raising as much as they can as the event nears.

Steven added: “We have recently set up a JustGiving page. We set an initial target of £1,000 and we have already hit £735 and it would be great if any of your readers could help.”

The Pype Hayes golf group hope to raise over £5,000 with all the money raised from the event along with online donations. A JustGiving page can be found here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bagotarms-golfsociety

For more on the Bagot Arms Golf Society visit: www.bagotarmsgs.com

For more on the ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ campaign visit: www.ittakesballstotalk.com

NEWS: Erdington United still “odds on to win the league” despite losing 5-1 to Trooper FC in County Cup final

Words & pics by Liam Smith

Heartbreak for Erdington United after suffering defeat in the County Cup final on Sunday 23 April, in a match which saw them lose 5-1 to Chelmsley Wood side Trooper FC.

The tournament finale took place at the Birmingham Country Football Association Headquarters in Great Barr, with a sizeable crowd present to watch the two clubs battle it out for the County Cup prize.

The game started evenly, with both teams sizing each other up in the early stages. The deadlock was broken in the 20th minute with Erdington being unable to clear their lines.

Another goal seven minutes later, and a few chances from Erdington Utd late in the first half, saw the half time whistle blow with Erdington 2-0 down but far from out of it.

Sadly for the local team from there it went downhill, as a third from the Trooper left winger, who had been a persistent threat all game, meant heads began to drop.

A 90th minute penalty smartly tucked away served very little in terms of consolation for Erdington, with Trooper FC finishing 5-1 up.

Erdington Local spoke with Tyler Ward, Erdington United’s manager after the match.

He told: “I’m obviously disappointed with the result, but the better team did win on the day. We didn’t really start to play until the match became an uphill battle, which is always difficult.

“It was a competition we had earmarked from the start of the season that we wanted to get far in. There were far more nerves heading into this one, as we knew how good a side Trooper are.”

Tyler added: “Once we started to play and create chances, we caused problems. It’s always a tough ask to claw back a 2-0 deficit in a final.”

Erdington United are still happy with their season, having earned silverware in the George Cup, and are eager to not let Sunday’s defeat deflate them.

The manager added: “we’re still odds on to win the league, and it was a good test for us to play against decent opposition.

“Full credit to Trooper FC who managed their game well and took their chances when they got them.”

For more on Erdington United visit www.erdingtonunited.org

NEWS: “Inspiring” Castle Vale gymnast Zion Aserie wins series of awards at British Gymnastics Championships 2023

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics supplied by Aserie family

Castle Vale gymnast Zion Aserie (16) has won a series of high profile awards at the recent British Gymnastics Championships 2023, held in Liverpool at the end of March.

Competing in the Under 18’s category, the Erdington athlete was awarded bronze medals in both the Floor and High Bar competitions.

Aserie went on to further win the silver medal in the U18 All Around category, and to beat athletes from across the UK to become the U18 Rings Champion – winning the top spot after fierce competition from Leeds Gymnastics Club.

With his eyes firmly set on one day reaching the Olympic podiums, Zion Aserie trains alongside world class athletes including celebrated world champion athlete Joe Fraser – also from Birmingham.

But despite his staggering success at the recent Liverpool held competition, which sees top level athletes go head to head for the coveted medals, Zion Aserie was almost not able to compete due to an acute stress fracture to his lower spine.

Nine months ago, doctors told the young athlete he had to leave the gym and spend three months recuperating, for fear of causing permanent or lasting injury.

With the crucial competition only months away, the young Aserie was forced to follow medical advice – leaving a question mark hanging over whether he could compete in the March 2023 event at all.

Having spent a decade training at City of Birmingham gymnastics club at the GMAC in Perry Barr, and with the Paris Summer Olympics scheduled for July/August 2024, the possibly permanent setback was a crushing blow to the young Castle Vale gymnast who had a promising future in the sport.

Zion Aserie is also a regular cast member of CBBC show Gym Stars, which follows the lives of some of the UK’s most promising young gymnasts.

Zion told: “I was devastated when my mum told me the results of my MRI scan.

“To think that it could have meant the end of my gymnastics career when all I’ve ever dreamed about is making it to the Olympics.”

But with the help and support of both his family and his coach, ex GB gymnast and double commonwealth champion Luke Folwell, Zion was eventually able to return to the gym – committing to 24 hours of rigorous training each week to stay at the very top of his game.

When the British Gymnastics Championships 2023 finally came round, Zion proved his fortitude by not only competing at event but taking home a bevy of medals and awards – including becoming the U18 Rings UK Champion.

Now back home in Birmingham, the young sports superstar has other challenges on the horizon – with his GCSE exams only a few weeks away.

His mum, Irene, told: “I am so proud of what Zion has achieved so far. My job is to ensure that he is able to work towards his dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast.

“He has what it takes, never makes excuses and is now reaping the rewards of his hard work. His resilience and determination are inspiring.”

Zion Aserie competing in the U18 Floor event at British Gymnastics Championships 2023

For more on Zion Aserie visit a www.linktr.ee/gymnastzion or follow him on Instagram at www.instagram.com/gymnastzion

For more on the British Gymnastics Championships 2023 visit www.british-gymnastics.org

NEWS: Erdington’s Leon Edwards retains UFC Welterweight title in confident five round fight at 02 Arena

Words by Ed King

Erdington UFC star Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards (Jamaica/UK) has retained his Welterweight title, beating Kamura Usman (Nigeria/USA) in a confident five round fight– winning on points by a majority judges’ decision.

Fending off continuous attempts by Usman to grapple Edwards to the floor, the UK world champion stayed strong on his feet and out boxed his way to final victory.

The UK based UFC fight, held at the 02 Arena in London, was the third time the two UFC stars had met in the octagon – with each fighter having won one of the previous two fights.

When Edwards won the Welterweight title from Usman in August 2022, he was losing on points until a decisive head kick in the fifth round that sent Usman crashing to the mat and Edwards home wearing the belt.

This time, however, Edwards held a confident stance from the start, landing continuous leg kicks and slipping or blocking Usmans attempts at head shots.

Round one saw each man test their opponent, with Usman holding the centre of the ring and Edwards picking up points with some well placed leg kicks.

Round two saw the first of Usman’s take downs, and the first of Edwards’ resilient responses to his opponent’s attempts to pin him to the mat.

In round three Edwards lost a potentially crucial point during another attempt from Usman to grapple the Birmingham fighter onto the floor, alongside a low blow that paused the fight and saw Edwards issued with a warning.

However, out maneuvering Usman throughout the fight, Edwards went on to dominate rounds four and five – albeit a close call at every step – displaying supreme control and fortitude whilst Usman seemed to be grasping for a take down.

In a flurry of well landed punches during the tail end of round five, Edwards secured his title, with most of the audience already applauding his win before the judge’s final decision.

Through a display of controlled and professional power, Leon Edwards showed the world just why he is the deserved holder of the UFC Welterweight belt – giving the young people in Edrington a home ground role model they can both identify with and be proud of.

After the fight, Kamura Usman told BT Sports: “He (Edwards) had a great gameplan. I always said from the start we’d meet again and I’m not done. We will see each other again.

“I always gave him props for what he’s accomplished. He’s a brother like myself and great respect. London you’ve got yourself a great champion.”

Waiting in the wings, however, was cocky Colby Ray Covington – current No2 in the UFC Welterweight rankings and a likely contender to face off against Edwards in the next title fight.

For more on Leon Edwards visit

www.ufc.com/athlete/leon-edwards

NEWS: Erdington’s Leon Edwards to defend UFC Welterweight title in UK fight with Kamaru Usman on 18 March

By Erdington Local editorial team

Erdington UFC star Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards will defend his Welterweight title on Saturday 18 March, stepping back into the Octagon to face Kamaru Usman (Nigeria/USA) – the man whom Edwards took the belt from in August 2022.

Promoted as UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3, the event will also see Lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje (USA) and Rafael Fiziev (Azerbaijan) face each other as part of the evening’s main card contests.

Further main card bouts will see Flyweights Joanne Wood (Scotland) verses Luana Carolina (Brazil), and Welterweights Gunnar Nelson (Iceland) verses Bryan Barberena(USA), in the first UFC pay per view event to be held in the UK since 2016.

There will also be several prelim bouts at UFC 286, including Featherweights Nathaniel Wood (UK) verses Lerone Murphy (UK) and Jack Shore (UK) verses Makwan Amirkhani (Finland), alongside Lightweights Sam Patterson (UK) verses Yanal Ashmoz (Israel).

Since Edward’s knockout win in August 2022, the British representing UFC stars have hoped the champ’s success will bring more domestic attention to the worldwide sport. UFC head honcho, Dana White, was also quick to announce the title challenge would be held in the UK.

However, rumours were that Usman would not be able to commit the London based contest, after fellow Welterweight MMA star Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson told sport media: “Kamaru Usman is having hand surgery, I know they (Leon Edwards) want to fight somebody in March and they were looking at Jorge Masvidal.

“He’s a stand-up fighter, which kind of inspires me a little bit because our division is heavy wrestlers, and Leon Edwards is a striker and he’s champ.”

It was also briefly speculated the world title fight might be held at Villa Park, after the Birmingham raised Edwards told UK Talk Sport last October: “To have it back in Birmingham in Villa (Park)… that would be amazing.

“I don’t think there’s a roof though at Villa, so it would probably be a bit difficult to do in early next year around February/March/April.

“To have the guy from Birmingham be able to do it, to achieve it. To bring it back now, it would sell out straight away.”

But the clash of the UFC titans is now fully confirmed for the 20,000 capacity 02 Arena, with one man set to walk home once again as UFC Welterweight Champion of the World on Saturday 18 March.

Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman have met in the ring twice before, with Usman defeating the Jamaica born and Birmingham raised Edwards by unanimous judge’s decision in December 2015. However, when the pair met for a title fight last summer, Edwards came back to win via knockout – delivering a kick to the head that floored Usman in the final moments of the contest.

Held in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA), on 21 August 2022, Usman was leading confidently on points until the last couple of rounds – when Edwards eventually feinted to get his opponent off guard and landed the decisive knockout blow direct to the temple.

In a post-match interview, an emotional and victorious Edwards told the world: “I can’t put it into words. It’s been a long four years. They all doubted me, they all said I couldn’t do it. Look at me now.

“I’m from the trenches, I’m built like this. I do it for everyone coming behind me. I told you it was possible. We can win a belt, from the UK.”

Leon Edwards was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved with his brother Fabian to Birmingham when he was a teenager – training at the now closed MMA gym on Erdington High Street.

Getting his first title fight after beating Californian Nate Diaz in June 2021, Edwards went on to make history as the UK’s second only ever UFC Champion and Birmingham’s first world title holder in the sport.

Since winning the world crowing fight in August ‘22, Leon Edwards’ portrait has been painted front and centre on a community mural by the old Maplin site at Six Ways Island – which identifies all the aspects of Erdington people can be proud of.

UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience is listened to by nearly 13m subscribers worldwide, has long championed Leon Edwards.

After the knockout victory against Usman, he told Edwards: “You have accomplished one of the hardest things in combat sports you beat the best fighter in the world, you are champion of the world.”

Now, just over 6 months later, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards and Kamaru Usman will face each other once again to settle the one all score – with the coveted Welterweight Champion belt returning to its rightful owner.

Leon Edwards will fight Kamaru Usman on Saturday 18 March, at the O2 Arena in London – with pay per view streaming options online. For more on UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3, visit www.ufc.com/event/ufc-286

For more on Leon Edwards visit www.ufc.com/athlete/leon-edwards

NEWS: Erdington Court Bowls Club receives grant to encourage locals to ‘Bowl for Health’

Pics supplied by Erdington Court Bowls Club

Erdington Court Bowls Club (ECBC) has been given a grant of £6,453 to offer bowls sessions to local individuals and groups as part of its ‘Bowl for Health’ programme – awarded through the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme (ENNS)

Each session, held weekly, will last an hour, with participants paying only £2.50 which will also include a drink and biscuit at the clubhouse.

All equipment and training is supplied by ECBS, a registered charity, and no previous bowls experience is necessary to take part. The Erdington based bowls club are keen for ‘all ages and abilities’ to join in on the sport.

Club Marketing Officer and Trustee Ray Woods said: “The news of this grant was fantastic. It enables us to build on the experience of hosting a ‘Bowl for Health’ programme last year – and also hosting  groups of special needs school students and adults.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide 9-10 hours of fun bowls per week in our indoor arena.

“We have links with the North Birmingham Branch of Parkinson’s UK and they are already receiving their initial coaching. We also have other groups who are interested.

“We also plan to use the sessions to increase ethnic, disabled, and female involvement in bowls.

The grant has been awarded by the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme and Birmingham City Council, in association with Witton Lodge Community Association.

EBCS launched their ‘Bowl for Health’ programme in 2022, using the sport to encourage both social engagement and a healthier lifestyle.

Sport is well known for helping to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as building team dynamics and a sense of community. Bowls in particular can improve eye and hand coordination, as well as offering company in a sociable setting through the Erdington based club.

Ray Woods added: “The sessions aim to address loneliness, isolation, and depression, and this complements our three Warm Welcome Space events each week.

“Already, the grant has enabled us to buy more bowls to enable us to run the sessions to larger groups.”

Erdington Court Bowls Club was founded as a youth club around 1900 by the Erdington Wesleyan Methodist Church, with tennis and cricket preceding bowls – which was introduced in 1925.

In 1976, Erdington Court Bowls Club built one of the first six rink artificial greens in the world. In addition, a full length four rink indoor arena was built, approximately 30 metres long, which hosts both flat and crown green bowlers from clubs in the area.

Erdington Court Bowls Club is part of the Erdington Recreational Trust (ERT) – a registered charity whose aims are to provide recreational and leisure facilities for the people of Erdington and the surrounding area.

Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington said: “It’s absolutely terrific news that Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme has awarded Erdington Court Bowls Club £6,453 to deliver their ‘Bowl for Health’ programme.

“The club is doing some great work and during my recent visit, I learned about their amazing Warm Welcome Space events that are helping local people through the cost of living crisis this winter.”

For more on Erdington Court Bowls Club visit www.erdingtoncourtbowlsclub.org.uk or call 07967 686230