Lack of funds stop reps going to top tourney

Bowls Nelson has had to decline an invitation to send its representative team to a prestigious quadrangular tournament because of a lack of funds.

Nelson's men's and women's representative teams had been invited to contest a tournament against Wellington, Canterbury and Marlborough in Wellington on February 18, but according to Bowls Nelson chairman Dave Edwards, the invitation also came with a hefty $5000 price tag.

Because the tournament wasn't originally part of Bowls Nelson's official season programme and hadn't been included in their annual budget, Edwards said that the 14 Nelson representatives (seven men and seven women) would have been required to pay their own way of up to $400 per head. That option was rejected and the invitation was declined.

Edwards said it was disappointing to turn down an opportunity for Nelson representative selection convener John Caldwell to test his players against top opposition ahead of March's national intercentre championships, also in Wellington. But Bowls Nelson's efforts to find a major sponsor this year had, so far, been unsuccessful.

"As the Bowls Nelson board, it's tough because we're responsible for every bowler, not just the rep team, so we have to be very careful with our money," Edwards said.

"We have gone seeking sponsorship big-time this year and the news has not been startling. We've had a couple of smaller sponsors come on board but we just haven't been able to nail a big sponsor."

A Bowls New Zealand equalisation policy means that each men's and women's team contesting the national intercentre event will pay $3500, plus GST, meaning a total of $7000 for Nelson, which had already been figured into Bowls Nelson's seasonal budget.

Edwards said the initial intention had been to send a team to the quadrangular tournament but after "crunching the numbers and looking at the budget, realised it was a stretch".

"We asked the players if they'd be prepared to contribute. They weren't able to and in the end, the decision was made to pull the pin. We're really disappointed and it's a real shame.

"It makes things a little bit difficult for Caldy [Caldwell] and the team as far as a buildup to the intercentre championships in Wellington, which is obviously the big one," Edwards said.

"We just want to give our players the best opportunity to perform at their best when it comes to the intercentre and this would have been a good buildup event for them."

Edwards said that Bowls Nelson would keep working hard to try to secure more sponsorship.

"We've just had to be a wee bit prudent with the money this year and believe it or not, we're actually in the process of running a good, old-fashioned raffle from which we hope to raise $4000-5000.

"If that's successful, and [by] being prudent this year, we should be in a much healthier financial position for next season."

As convener of selectors, Caldwell said he appreciated the Nelson centre's financial situation but also lamented a missed opportunity.

"Not going to the tournament is obviously a negative and it would be better to be there and get a measure of these top players in the lead up to the major [interprovincial] tournament," he said.

"It's not the end of the world by not going, but by preference, we do need greater exposure as time progresses . . . and we've got some very good younger players coming through and they need to be given that opportunity.

"We certainly lack a sponsor, and [securing one] would certainly turn us around overnight."

The Nelson Mail