Ballina bowler Kris Lehfeldt and Byron Bay's Gavin McPhail after the Zone one champion of champions final. Lehfeldt is competing in the state finals this week.
Ballina bowler Kris Lehfeldt and Byron Bay's Gavin McPhail after the Zone one champion of champions final. Lehfeldt is competing in the state finals this week. Judith Tuckey

Mountains to climb at state finals

LOCALS Kris Lehfeldt (Ballina) and pairs team Greg Johnson and Martyn Wood (Yamba) will, in coming days , carry northerners' hopes in the most prestigious of state competitions.

These are events in which bowlers have to be the zone champion in order to be eligible. Lehfeldt won the Zone One title and the Yamba pair were the zone's best in pairs.

The champion of champions state finals are being run until Friday at Kiama. The Yamba pair began their two-day quest yesterday, while Lehfeldt will face his best-of-state opposition tomorrow and Friday.

First-up in the red-hot singles field Lehfeldt will be up against 19-year-old Dylan Skinner, of Wollongong, who first came to notice when he played in the Ballina Summerland Pairs with Commonwealth Games star Brett Wilkie as a 12-year-old who had just become the youngest player ever to have been selected in the NSW Under-18s.

If Lehfeldt can overcome the youngster who has built up a great reputation, there still are mountains to climb. In the field are world-rated bowlers such as Aron Sherriff (Ettalong), Mathew Petersen (St Johns Park) and Gerard Beath (Cowra), to name a few.

Remembering Pat

OUR piece last week on the late Arthur Black drew attention to the loss of another Northern NSW bowls great who was in the same Australian squad as Black at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.

Pat Smith, who died in September, took women's bowls in our area to a new level. A member of the Murwillumbah club for 50 years, she won the club's open singles title 21 times, the pairs 17 times, six triples and 13 fours.

With the Murwillumbah club then affiliated with the Gold Coast district, she won six district singles, three pairs, one triples, two fours , was singles champion of champions three times and triples champion of champions once. Eleven times she represented Queensland and became that state's singles champion of champions.

On the national scene she won the Australian singles, was runner-up in the Australian pairs and played at two Commonwealth Games (the other was in Brisbane).

Sadly, the Murwillumbah club for which Pat achieved so much is no more. But her name and what she meant to the game is treasured in the Tweed-Byron District Women's Bowling Association's archives.

Games bound

FORMER local star junior Indi Conlan has been practising with the Papua New Guinea side he will join for next year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Conlan is eligible to play for PNG through cultural heritage.

The side is at his current Brisbane club Enoggera, having an early warm-up on unfamiliar greens.

"It's a dream come true to play at the Commonwealth Games,” Conlan told Queensland Bowler magazine.

"It's the peak level of the sport so you're playing against the best of the best in every game. Just having the chance of being able to have a strike at a medal is unreal.”

Payment issues

THE "why?” cry is not only in New South Wales.

"Why am I required to pay the Bowls Victoria affiliation fee if I don't play pennants?” is a similar complaint heard often in the southern state.

It has brought a response from Bowls Victoria's bowls section committee to what it calls a "not unreasonable query”.

"Up until a couple of years ago, affiliation to Bowls Victoria was mandatory for ALL bowlers but this was eased a year or so ago to enable new bowlers to try six games without being affiliated,” the committee said.

In stressing what the affiliation fee gives members, it pointed out the fee was now club-based rather than based on individual numbers.

Gloves allowed

WEARING a glove during play is sometimes used by women bowlers seeking to avoid over-exposure to the sun. Is it in accordance with the rules?

The gurus tell us there is nothing to stop the practice - it is similar to using a support for any other limb that needs attention to allow a person to be able to play.

MY VIEW: ON ADMINISTRATION

LET'S face it. We need competent administration to run our game - every sport does. But sometimes it can grow to the stage we fear we're getting more chiefs than Indians.

In most businesses - and bowls has become a business - staff paring is the first step taken when times are hard.

But bowls clubs around the country are closing their doors and we don't see our state or national administration being pruned as a cost-saving measure.

Bowls Australia, which should be setting an example, seems determined to fill its office chairs. In a glowing job-enticement item online labelled "Employment Opportunities”, the national body stated it had 17 staff in its Victorian headquarters, with team members "operating across the country”.

"We are a social group and celebrate birthdays and other milestones,” it said. "And for those interested in playing the game of bowls, there are always willing participants.”

A social group! Why have I always regarded the controllers of the game in our country as a body that spends its time with nothing but bowls on the agenda? I've always thought of it as anything but a social group.

But I'm prepared to give it credit - at least it's prepared to cater for those of its staff who are interested in playing bowls.



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