CORNWALL COUNTY SHORT MAT BOWLING ASSOCIATIONNEWS RELEASE 2 August 2020
The 30th anniversary of the formal creation of the Cornwall County Short Mat Bowling Association passed recently with the game still very much on hold due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The CCSMBA management committee meets on Monday 10th August to discuss plans for the forthcoming season.
The English Short Mat Bowling Association has recently published its outline plan for the return of Short Mat Bowls over next 9 months however these plans may now be in doubt following last Friday's government press conference and the changes to the easing of lockdown measures announced.
Subject to the necessary Government approvals the ESMBA expects that clubs will be able to re-open for social bowling with a maximum of 4 bowlers per mat in September increasing to 6 bowlers per mat in October providing social distancing requirements can be met. This will present a challenge for some clubs to generate sufficient revenues from playing fees to cover venue hire and sanitisation costs.
Nearly a third of Cornwall's Short Mat Bowls clubs are part of, or use the clubhouse facilities of, outdoor clubs affiliated to Bowls England. To date Bowls England is mandating that clubhouses remain closed, should this continue into September and beyond a number of short mat bowlers may not have access to facilities to play even if Short Mat Bowls is given the go ahead to restart. Bowls England have not answered questions on this matter, instead deferring enquiries to the awaited ESMBA guidance.
Competitive bowling looks set to return in November when Inter club activity is expected to re-commence with County Open Competitions expected to be allowed from December. Guidance for both is to be issued at a later date. ESMBA competitions look set to commence from January 2021 with knock out and open competitions aimed at club level. It is also expected that qualification competitions for the National Over 55 Pairs and Mixed Fours will be able to be run at county level. The 2020 ESMBA National Championships postponed in April this year will be rescheduled for April 2021. There will be no local qualifying heats held during the 2020/21 season with the bowlers who qualified in 2020 expected to compete in the 2021 finals. With the 2019/20 Inter County Championship not expected to be completed until early in 2021 it is assumed that there is no Inter County Championship in the forthcoming season.
The British Isles Short Mat Bowls Council recently announced that the 2020 British Isles Championships due to be played in November will not go ahead. International Bowls is currently set to resume with the rearranged World Championships in Belgium during March 2021.
In recent years local bowlers have featured prominently in Short Mat Players Tour events. Following the enforced cancellation of the World Masters in April and the early decision to postpone the entire 2020/21 Short Mat Players Tour season, Tournament Director Craig Burgess commented 'We are encouraged by the support we have received to date and would like to thank everyone. We are hopeful we can run a scaled down event at Falcon Indoor Bowling Club in February 2021'.
Short Mat Bowls faces significant challenges in the months ahead. With a membership base that has a significant majority over the age of 65, many of whom have been shielding for a significant amount of time there is likely to be a general reluctance to return to bowling whilst the virus threat remains.
Press and Promotions Officer
Cornwall County Short Mat Bowling Association