LIKE most youngsters, Becky Daly’s introduction to tenpin bowling was through family days out and birthday parties.
But unlike most youngsters, Becky turned out to be pretty good – so much so that she is now ranked one of the best young players in the country.
What started out as a past-time is now a sport and the 17-year-old from Accrington has set her sights on becoming a future world champion.
For someone who has played at county level since she was 10 and starred in European Championships, conquering the world is well within her grasp.
And the former Mount Carmel pupil has dad Les to blame for unearthing a talent she never knew she had.
“We used to do the fun bowling thing like most other families and she had been two a few birthday parties but that was about it.
“But I got chatting to a youth coach over at Burnley and it all went from there,” said Les who is now a tenpin bowling coach. “I took Becky across and after just a few sessions, they realised she had something special.”
Becky was nine at the time and attended St Anne’s and St Joseph’s Primary School. Within 12 months she was attending trials for the Lancashire squad and has been an integral part of the county set-up ever since.
“It’s funny to see how far she has come in that time,” added Les. “I remember her first coaching sessions at Burnley. The coach said “Right Becky, let’s see what you can do” and she picked the up bowl and rolled it two-handed down the lane!
“He soon ironed out those problems.”
Becky’s talents were soon attracting the attention of national coaches. She was invited to take part in the World Sport Festival in Vienna, a multi-sport event attended by more than 6,000 competitors – an event used by coaches to check out the talent on show.
Despite being just 13 and the youngest at the Festival, Becky picked up a bronze medal.
“I think that is the moment it sunk in and we realised that Becky was actually very good,” said Les. “She was invited to attend the national academy and the coaches liked what they saw and Becky was chosen to represent England.”
Becky, who is now studying a sports course at Blackburn College, has competed in three Triple Crown Championships – a home international between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and last year helped England win silver in the European Championships.
“Despite finishing in second place, England are regarded as the best in Europe,” said Les. “Last year, they broke the European pin fall record during the championships.
“Unfortunately, the final was a one game shoot-out which they lost.”
Becky will be on England duty again at the forthcoming European Championships in Denmark and she is currently training five nights a week in preparation.
And she warmed up with a match against her own club Blackburn Youth Bowling Club – a club where dad Les is also a coach.
“Due to Becky’s England and Lancashire commitments, she does miss a lot of games for Blackburn,” added Les.
“The club was only formed last season and has some on in leaps and bounds and has already received national recognition for the way it is run.”
While Becky undoubtedly has plenty of natural ability, her hard work and dedication – not to mention the commitment of dad Les and mum Catherine who happily drive her around the country to compete – has certainly played it’s part.
“Becky has made a lot of sacrifices to do what she does. She often has to miss friends’ birthday parties because she is away competing,” said Les. “But she has also made a lot of friends through tenpin bowling.
“The only difference is that we meet up in different hotels across the country!”
Becky still has another year at competing at junior level before stepping up in to the senior ranks.
Her aims include winning a scholarship in America, become a future world champion and achieving the magical 300 score – the tenpin bowling equivalent of a maximum break in snooker.
Les believes his daughter can achieve all three.
“Testing herself in America and becoming a world champion are well within her capabilities,” he said. “As for the magical 12 strikes score of 300, well she is not too far off already. It is only a matter of time before she achieves it!”