Pictured at the Ballina RSL Bowling Club 50th anniversary celebrations are: David Wright, mayor of Ballina Shire Council; Don Page, member for Ballina and wife Liz; Gary Hooley, chairman Ballina RSL Ltd; Kevin Soward, president Zone One Bowls Association; Ian McKnight, director Royal NSW Bowling Association; Barry Quail, president Northern Rivers District Bowling Association; Brian Lewis, president Ballina RSL Men's Bowling Club.
Pictured at the Ballina RSL Bowling Club 50th anniversary celebrations are: David Wright, mayor of Ballina Shire Council; Don Page, member for Ballina and wife Liz; Gary Hooley, chairman Ballina RSL Ltd; Kevin Soward, president Zone One Bowls Association; Ian McKnight, director Royal NSW Bowling Association; Barry Quail, president Northern Rivers District Bowling Association; Brian Lewis, president Ballina RSL Men's Bowling Club. Greg Danvers

Ballina RSL bowlo reaches milestone but more challenges loom

FIFTY years on from a single green in River St to three greens and a stand-alone club in Canal Rd, the Ballina RSL men's bowling club will face many challenges before its next major milestone.

Not only has the club industry undergone significant change, the demands on people's time and disposable income, along with the many recreational activities available, continues to challenge clubs to attract and retain members.

"This is a very auspicious occasion for the club," Bowls NSW director Ian McKnight said at the club's 50th anniversary celebrations on Saturday.

"In today's climate in club life it is very difficult to keep your head above water and I am sure the club here is no different to others."

McKnight emphasised the need to attract younger members with shorter games and more suitable times for families and youth.

"We need new types of games, to get away from the standard games we play," he said. "Shorter and more vibrant games; games of less than two hours."

Lawn bowls at Ballina RSL can be traced to the opening of a single green in River St on September 26, 1964.

A year before, the inaugural committee, headed up by chairman A T 'Sandy' May, oversaw the construction of the green on reclaimed land between the RSL Club and River St.

Sand from the Richmond River was used as a base for the reclamation works.

Ballina Shire grew substantially over the next two decades as did the bowling club membership which led to the move to Canal Rd.

The three greens and clubhouse were opened by Royal NSW Bowling Association president Jack Ball on September 21, 1986.

Uncertainty over a rumoured redevelopment proposal of the Canal Rd site in 2002 severely affected club membership and many left to join other clubs.

"Since that time the club has consolidated, has a stable membership and is known throughout the area as the friendly club," president Brian Lewis said.

The club has had success in Northern Rivers pennants, winning many flags.

In its 50th year, the club broke through for the first time at zone level.

The No 6 pennant side won the Zone One flag and went on to represent the region at the State finals held at Ballina on the Canal Rd and Cherry St greens.

"Fifty years is a long time for a club to be operating," Ballina MP Don Page said.

"In terms of the future it does present challenges for clubs right across the sector, not just bowling clubs, especially smaller clubs.

"I think the future for Ballina RSL Bowling Club is quite bright, although there will be challenges along the way."



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