World Indoor Bowls underway in Norfolk behind closed doors

The word 'bubble' has certainly taken on a whole new meaning during the pandemic, particularly in sporting circles.

For instance the Potters Resort at Hopton on Sea in Norfolk is currently home to the best indoor bowlers around.

The venue has become their bubble while the World Championships are staged behind closed doors.

Empty rink at Potters Resort, Hopton on Sea during the 2021 World Indoor Bowls Championship Credit: ITV Anglia

The seating areas at the venue are hidden behind black drapes, just to underline that no fans are allowed at this year's World Indoor Bowls.

Usually around 20,000 spectators watch matches from the Norfolk coastal resort during the course of the event.

Not having supporters around is something which the players are still getting used to. But they're grateful that the event IS being staged, despite the national lockdown.

It will help some people obviously and it will hinder others. You're playing a big game and you've got 1,400 people sitting there watching you, the pressure's on. The pressure's not quite on so much because you haven't got that crowd pushing you.

Sometimes for me it can really help me because obviously I'm local and I usually get a lot of support down here and over the years it's been really good.

Mervyn King, World Indoor Men's Singles Champion 2006

The players, who've been starved of competitive bowls during the pandemic, have had to adjust to new procedures.

From the jack being sanitised between ends, to no handshakes after matches.

Players and officials have to wear face coverings while off the rink during the 2021 World Indoor Bowls Championships Credit: ITV Anglia

For those involved in competition, face coverings are worn while off the rink, with regular coronavirus testing and staying on the Potters resort in small bubbles.

Obviously everyone is respectful of the measures that are in place. We'e all been put in little bubbles. But it's brilliant to spend time with players and connect with them in being in a completely different environment than home for a while.

Ellen Falkner, Three-times World Indoor Ladies Singles Champion

A slip on the golf course means it's commentary duties for Cambridgeshire's world number one mens player Nicky Brett, as he recovers from a broken wrist.

The 2016 Mens Singles Champion, was hoping to defend his two doubles titles from last year, as well as bid for a second singles crown.

For someone like myself who plays quite a lot it's been a big miss so hence why I was golfing to try and fill the void really. So yes disappointing not to have so much competition or, the big disappointment, to miss this particular competition.

Nicky Brett, Double-winning World Indoor Bowls champion 2020
The trophies being contested for at the 2021 World Indoor Bowls Championship Credit: ITV Anglia

And bowls fans usually watching from the resort are able to follow matches streamed online ahead of national TV coverage next week.

What's been brilliant over this period is that the bowls community have stayed connected, and this event going ahead is massively important in terms of raising hope, inspiring people to get back out on the green when they can, and getting bowls back within the hearts and minds of the bowling community

Ellen Falkner