The young ones took centre stage at the Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club recently. It was a rare scene at the club, whose members are mostly in their senior years.
The QBLBC hosted the the Youth Winter Indoor Bowls event on Feb. 17-18, a first for the the club and for Bowls BC, which funded the tournament. It featured six top young lawn bowlers from various clubs in the province.
The first day featured a friendly competition using the fast-paced Australian format known as “Jack Attack.” It’s a new, exciting, short, sharp and snappy way to play lawn bowls. The innovative format shortens the length of the game to just an hour, which makes it more attractive to prospective young players, said Shirley Philips, one of the organizers. Teams of three play two-bowl triples over two sets of five ends, with a power play end in each set where any shots scored are doubled.
The singles competition was held on Sunday, Feb. 18. The participants played each other in a round-robin format. It was Jason Valchar of the Nanaimo Bowling Club that took top honours followed by Emma Boyd of Tsawwassen, and Max-Bodley Scot of Gordon Head.
Wayne Hatter of Bowls BC said this inaugural tournament was suggested by one of its members who recently travelled to Australia and England.
“It’s something that might be interesting for the kids to be able to do,” said Hatter. “So with Bowls BC financing it, we decided to try it out for the first time this year. We are hoping it’s going to end up being an annual event.”
Having young bowlers come out to this tournament and compete, Hatter added, will help change the stigma that the sport is simply for senior citizens only.
“I think North America is probably the only area in the world that concentrates on older people,” said Hatter.
“You go elsewhere in Europe, Asia and England, you find that is primarily participated in by young people, say eight-year-olds all the way to the 40s and 50s.”
Philips, who is also a coach, said it is unusual for the local members to watch young bowlers compete at the club. The event was live-streamed and approximately 60 people watched the event from as far as UK and South Africa.
“I was excited about this,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to see the young people get together and see their game developing. They’re very keen and very good about the game.”