Bowls NZ need to be careful if they are to target casual players
For some time I have been concerned Bowls New Zealand is trying to mask the decline in the sport's playing numbers and a resolution passed at its November meeting does not allay my unease in any way.
The resolution passed and circulated to all clubs read:
"Increasing participation is critical to the survival and growth of the sport. Casual participation programmes and their delivery must be a key priority for the Whole of Sport Plan development. There must be transparency around the number of casual bowls programmes being held, the numbers participating and all who take part must contribute to the growth of the sport.
"Casual bowls leagues need to be part of the annual tournament approval process that centres conduct and the clubs holding casual bowls leagues need to have details listed in centre handbooks. A regulation outlining the process of registration needs to be developed as part of the Whole of Sport Plan development.
"All casual engagement with the sport needs to be promoted under a known brand (MIB) and a review of brands also needs to be carried out as part of the Whole of Sport development process. This exercise needs to articulate the value of operating under a known brand and the benefit it brings to all levels of the sport."
So what does all that mean? Well for my money it is all part of a plan to introduce a Bowls New Zealand capitation fee on casual bowlers, most of whom play a version of business house or twilight bowls.
Clubs have been running these events since daylight saving was introduced in the early 1970s and their popularity has been maintained while traditional aspects of the sport have declined.
I may be overly suspicious, but this is shared by many in bowls, particularly the small country clubs.
The last thing Bowls New Zealand needs is for clubs to secede from their centres and organise their own competitions. These discussions take place regularly and for those clubs containing few of what we would regard as "competitive bowlers" going alone is a real option.
I believe casual bowls tournaments are so popular because they don't dominate your entire leisure time and they are short and sweet in every way.
Play a game for 1 hours, a couple of cold ones and a sausage with your opposition and away home. Back in the 1970s there was an enormous amount of social rugby and cricket played and the baby boomers from that era are the ones playing casual bowls. No longer interested in competition, but still loving the camaraderie.
I'll be interested to see how this turns out. I may be entirely wrong in my assumptions. Read the resolution again and work it out for yourself.
■ The delayed final of the Manawatu mixed 2-4-2 will be played at Terrace End this Saturday at 12.15pm and I expect it to be a cracker.
Janeen Noble and Barry Wynks will be playing defending champions Sharon Sims and Mark Noble. It has everything, husband versus wife, disabled man versus disabled man and a three-time world champion. Get along and see some top bowls.
■ At the same venue, the men's division two interclub will also be playing and it looks a contest between Palmerston North A, Johnston Park A and Terrace End.
Anything could happen yet, but to win it, the formula is simple - win seven of your nine games and you'll take some beating.