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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I
shall do my best to answer them.
With the 2019 Bowls Season just around the corner, Bowls Jersey on conjunction with its Competition Sponsors Touchstone (C.I.) Limited are delighted to announce that the draws for the season are now available on our website.