On the Mat: Highs and lows for the year
A LOOK back over the year of lawn bowls and 2016 was one of change and unexpected turns of events - not so much on the field but off it in the sport's hierarchy and administration, especially in Queensland.
The on-field performance of the top men and lady bowlers stood out, with the highlight during the year being the second Australian Open Bowls Festival at Gold Coast clubs in the month of June.
Of course there were some negatives, with a few major tournaments failing to fill with maximum numbers, forcing their cancellation due to lack of numbers, but the positives far outweigh the negatives and surely bowls administrators will learn from this experience.
The declining membership numbers are a fact of life in these modern times and clubs need to address this fact and be more pro-active in membership drives.
Twelve months ago, Bowls Queensland advertised for a CEO and in March this year a newly elected Bowls Queensland board took over and appointed Warren Birks from a long list of applicants.
In June this year, Birks resigned and in September, the board announced the appointment of Brett Wilkie as the new CEO for Bowls Queensland, much to the delight of bowlers throughout the state.
On the field, the performance by our top bowlers was outstanding with Aron Sherriff taking out the Australian Open Singles over Brett Wilkie.
The top ladies pairs combination of Emma Brown and Noelene Dutton winning the Australian Open Pairs back to back was outstanding and yet snubbed by state selectors.
The magnificence of "King” Jeremy Henry, winning the Australian Indoor championship back to back and also the Golden Nugget in the same year is my choice for Bowler of the Year.
Jono Davis, the Australian Open Junior Champion, is undoubtedly the Junior Bowler of the Year and special mention to 17-year-old Australian Indoor runner up Curtis Hanley - both youngsters with a big future in the sport.
Natasha Scott stood out amongst the ladies as the top player for the year winning the National and World Champion of Champions and Australian indoor all in the past 12 months.
The year ahead promises to be bigger and better with international sides visiting the Gold Coast in June in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in just 16 months time.
Exciting times ahead for the sport of lawn bowls on the Tweed Gold Coast in 2017 with the $12,500 Taylor Bowls singles at Cherry Street Ballina starting on Monday. The event will start with a field of 128 bowlers, spread over four days of qualifying with the final 16 set to play four knockout rounds on Friday, January 6.
The who's who of bowlers in the Northern Rivers and Tweed Coast will be there and include Scott De Jongh and Luke Jones playing on Monday; Kelvin Kerkow, Alf Boston, Ray Glasser, Carmen Anderson playing on Tuesday with Jono Davis; Ben Twist, Ryan Bester, Kevin Anderson, Sean Ingham on Wednesday; with defending champion Kevin Higson and Jamie Smith playing on Thursday.
Wishing all the readers a happy and safe 2017.