Over the past two years, East Ivanhoe Bowls Club has enjoyed a new lease on life under the guidance of a new Board and Chairman, John Hymet.
Embedded in what is considered as very much a bowls heartland of Inner-Northern suburban Melbourne, with six to eight clubs all within a short 10-minute drive of each other, the club has been forced to adapt.
No longer is bowls the sole-purpose, with a multi-purpose focus now driving the club according to John.
“In the (two) years I’ve been Chairman, we’ve just gone in a completely different direction to previous Boards,” he said.
“We’ve really diversified the usage of the club itself.
“To try to utilise the space we’ve got, instead of just using it wholly and solely as a bowls club. This generates extra income for the club.
“Our idea is to build up our membership (social and playing) and hopefully get some bowlers out of it as well. It’s an issue at the moment because of the close proximity of so many bowling clubs in the area.”
The club has played host to a number of non-bowls organisations and events in recent times, which has, in turn, led a steady conversion of these event-goers into curious bowlers.
The Ivanhoe Junior Soccer Club has been one of many local organisations to use East Ivanhoe’s facility, holding its annual Presentation Day at the club to much fanfare, with the kids also enjoying a bowl.
Just from this one example, the club garnered new interest with many of the parents expressing an eagerness to again visit the club during it’s ‘Come and Try’ bowls event in October, part of Bowls Victoria’s ‘Play Bowls Month’.
Among the other interested parties in utilising the club have been the local Fly Fishing Group, local universities and others, while the club is currently enjoying record bookings for function space and barefoot bowls bookings.
Despite the club’s fighting position and a $15,000-plus strong sponsorship backing from the likes of Jellis Craig Real Estate, SHK Asia Pacific, Bendigo Bank, Logical Choice Finance, Arcuri & Associates, and THE Grounds plus others, John concedes that for the club to not just survive, but thrive, a merger with the local Ivanhoe Bowls Club must be an ultimate reality.
Part of both club’s grand plans is to convert the East Ivanhoe facility into a $4-5 million multi-sport complex, in the hope that local council assists this vision.
“We want to be known as a multi-purpose place,” John said.
“It (merger) looks like its starting to gather legs. But this is going to be a few years down the track.
“Both clubs are pushing it… We’ve left the egos at the door and for the betterment of the two clubs, it’s got to occur.”