It has been brought to my attention that there is some quiet (and some vocal!) unrest about the bringing forwards of some of the Competition Dates this season and the overall structure of the Bowls Jersey Competitions.
This statement is to explain the two primary reasons as to why this has been done and the mitigating factors taken to try and cause the minimal disruption.
This year, the Atlantic Championships are being held in Wales throughout the course of May. Our Island representatives are competing from 6th May to the end of May on a world stage to qualify Jersey for World Bowls 2020, and it has long been Bowls Jersey’s primary ambition not to preclude any bowler from competing in events that can get them to the British Isles by scheduling rounds whilst they are on International Duty. This is a principal used in 2018 for the Welsh Test Series, and a principle being used again in 2019.
The players in the Atlantics are already unable to enter the National 2 Wood Singles due to date clashes, and it is only by sheer luck of the draw that arrangements were possible for them to play in the Sets Singles – in other words they have already made sacrifices domestically to represent their island and may well have been expected to make bigger sacrifices than they already have.
Obviously, in many recent years with the Championships being in the southern hemisphere or further abroad, competitions have been in September thru November and therefore provide no scheduling headache as our seasons are over and the greens put to bed. This year it is different, and with countries closer to home putting in much welcomed bids to host tournaments, this scenario will only occur more in the future. World Bowls 2020 in Australia (OK, no closer to home!) is set to run through May and June – so Bowls Jersey will face the same issue next year – regardless of whether the plan this year is a success or failure, the Bowls Jersey Committee will have valuable feedback to assist with next year’s season plan. Commonwealth Games 2022 will run July thru August so it is clear the traditional way of scheduling games is going to run into more regular headaches. It means 4 years in 5 will have major events in the middle of our traditional bowling season – times are indeed a-changing and we need to try and adapt with them.
This leads nicely onto the second reason for the different structure…
Club Green Time
All the Clubs this year have suffered a decline in membership once more. This is through a variety of reasons (age and health being factors outside a clubs control), but there are other reasons. Failure to properly integrate new members into bowls so they play one season and give up, not enough club events for members to enjoy their green time. The Clubs therefore came up with an action plan, and it was agreed that for as many Fridays in July and August as possible, Clubs would have unfettered use of their greens for club events. Being a set date, it was hoped a combined marketing campaign to encourage new and existing members to join regular club activities on these Friday evenings without Bowls Jersey taking up rink space would have a positive impact on club recruitment possibilities, and club social options. There was, and remains, a lot of method in this madness. Bowls is a great sport – the Clubs need a chance to sell that so we arrest this decline. This provides a healthy chance for the clubs to build a solid plan and foundation for the season and better use their fantastic facilities.
It means to do this, Bowls Jersey had to find a new way of structuring competitions. It was my idea, so please direct all frustrations at me, to divide the season into two halves. Traditionally, all our competitions start in May and play out through August. It means there are a lot of games early in the season, but far fewer towards the end as all competitions are in the quarter and semi final stages where fewer bowlers are engaged. This doesn’t utilise green space particularly well, nor does it keep people bowling throughout an entire season if they do not progress to the latter rounds.
So this year the 2 Wood Singles, Sets Singles, Mixed Pairs and National Triples will be played throughout May and June to the semi final stages. At this point, the Singles, Pairs and Fours will commence and play in the tail end of June and throughout July and August, spreading the green time whilst also buying the clubs more green time where Bowls Jersey do not interfere.
This year, Bowls Jersey took the un-precedented step of publishing the proposed dates of the rounds on the Competition Forms so that if people were away the clash would have been aware to them at the time of entering. There are people who have not entered these competitions as they were aware they would not be available on the dates set out. For this reason, the Committee held fast that as people hadn’t entered knowing they couldn’t make the dates – it would be a totally unacceptable course of action to publish new dates once the draws had been completed – and as such the published early dates must stand.
Of course, this season from the structure perspective is a trial run – if it falls flat on its face not only do I take full responsibility but it shall be put back to the way it was for the 2020 season.
Bowls does need to change and adapt, and Bowls Jersey must adhere to the wishes of its member clubs. It also does everything it can for its representative bowlers balanced against all the Competitions our members enter and support. It is not an easy balancing act. Delegates from all clubs were present at sub-committee meetings and it was all agreed to give some new ideas a chance this year. As President, I obviously take the ultimate responsibility for driving these changes forwards. I know, and hopefully those who don’t agree can still sympathise, that we will never do right by everyone – but it is vital as a small Island with declining membership we continue to challenge the way we have always done things and not be afraid to try new things. They may not work, and I will be the first to hold my hands up. People will be able to vote with their ballot papers on November 6th to elect a new President if they feel they can no longer support the course I charter for our Association, but I remain fully committed whilst in office to shaking off our stereotypes and trying to help our sport breathe new life into our wonderful game.
As ever, I am grateful for the people continually coming up with ideas and feedback and I hope that together, we can have a successful season and find something that works for the majority.
I wish all players and clubs the very best for the upcoming season and thank you for taking the time to read this statement.
If having read this statement you have any questions, please email email@example.com and I shall do my best to answer them.
Yours in Sport, Greg
Greg Davis – Bowls Jersey President