David Gourlay, one of Scotland's most decorated lawn bowlers, has returned to Bowls Scotland as Head Coach and is taking charge at a crucial time, with the World Championships on the immediate horizon and a Commonwealth Games less than 18 months away.
Sport First caught up with David to find out how he feels about this new challenge and the highly-developed competitive environment that helps bowlers in Scotland to compete on the world stage.
How does it feel to be back in the role of Head Coach at Bowls Scotland?
It feels great to be back involved with the Bowls Scotland High Performance programme and again getting the opportunity to work with and plan the training and competition schedule for some of the best players in the world.
Does it feel different this time around?
The main difference this time round is that there is not a home Games on the horizon and this brings a different type of pressure as well as a new set of challenges.
What is the biggest challenge facing the squad for Gold Coast 2018?
The biggest challenge facing the squad for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is managing their time with the needs of the programme, making sure our squad gets the correct preparation to compete in the Southern Hemisphere.
How much will the support of Rhona Martin as High Performance manager impact on the team/performance?
Having the experience and knowledge of an Olympic gold medallist will be invaluable and I’m sure both myself and the squad will take the opportunity to learn from Rhona to improve.
How far has bowls come as a performance sport in Scotland since you first started working as national coach?
There is a realisation within our sport that we can no longer rely on players with only natural ability and that we have engaged on a High Performance Programme and leading the way globally in how we now approach the game at the top level.
Bowls in Scotland has taken a few steps on the HP ladder but we still have some way to go; we are attempting to change the culture of the sport.
With investment and support from sportscotland, our High Performance team have access to resources which can help them improve their game as well as the opportunity to play competitive matches.
What are you looking forward to most in your role as Head Coach?
It is my philosophy that the players’ needs come first and I’m looking forward to helping them develop and prepare for the pressures of a Commonwealth Games.
Right now, we are concentrating on qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the upcoming World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand (November 29 - December 11) is a crucial event for us.
My job is to ensure that no stone is left unturned in ensuring our squad can perform with distinction.
We will be selecting our High Performance Squad by February 1, 2017. I am looking for players who will show the dedication and commitment required for the Performance Programme as our focus is on being on the medal podium.
Experience is always good when it comes to performing on the world stage but I also think bringing in some younger players can add a different dynamic.
I can’t say what the make-up of the squad will be for 2018 yet but I am looking forward to working with whoever is selected.
Do you have a favourite memory of the last Commonwealth Games: Glasgow 2014?
I have many favourite memories from Glasgow but I guess what pleased me most was witnessing the players and our sport getting the media attention that they deserved and also watching bowls being accepted within a multi-sport event.
Keep up to date with how Scotland's bowlers get on at the 2016 World Championships by following the Bowls Scotland Facebook page.