Bowlers must play in na­tion­als

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

THE coun­try’s top bowlers will have lit­tle op­tion but to par­tic­i­pate in the an­nual na­tion­als if they want to be con­sid­ered for pos­si­ble na­tional se­lec­tion.

That’s the clear mes­sage be­ing driven home by Bowls SA, and the right one, as their show­piece tour­na­ment has lost its way in re­cent years.

En­try num­bers have bor­dered on pa­thetic in re­cent years for a num­ber of rea­sons… but with vast in­creases in prize money for the var­i­ous dis­ci­plines (fours R40 000); ex­pect a dra­matic rise in en­tries.

While lack of in­ter­est in past years holds wa­ter, lead­ing play­ers, who can­not at­tend in fu­ture, bet­ter have valid cause if they are to sway the mind­set of the na­tional se­lec­tors who are on a mis­sion to se­lect play­ers for squad camps who avail them­selves.

Cries from cer­tain play­ers who feel they are be­ing over­looked for rea­sons other than their per­for­mances should be taken with a pinch of salt, for it is these play­ers who do not avail them­selves to the rel­e­vant cri­te­ria re­quire­ments.

And bury the no­tion that provin­cial­ism is rife in se­lec­tion, na­tional team head coach The­uns Fraser has give as­sur­ances that SA teams will be picked on merit.

While eye­brows at this state­ment will be raised by some in Western Prov­ince (some merit here), Fraser ap­pears to be a man of his word.

As a for­mer Protea, he knows a top per­former when he sees one. Fraser is a man of dis­ci­pline, na­tional colours in judo are tes­ti­mony to that.

He thrives on dis­ci­pline and sees it as a key in­gre­di­ent when con­sid­er­ing who to pick.

Since tak­ing up the dual role of head se­lec­tors, and ably sup­ported by his panel, the na­tional teams’ per­for­mances in the last cou­ple of years have been of the high­est or­der; three gold medals at the re­cent Com­mon- wealth Games of­fer­ing a glimpse of what’s to come in the fu­ture.

Bowls SA are also driv­ing trans­for­ma­tion in the sport in a big way.

And Fraser fore­sees a time in the near fu­ture when SA teams will be truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple.

As many as 100 play­ers of colour have al­ready been iden­ti­fied for 2011 and will un­dergo rig­or­ous train­ing in or­der to progress them into the var­i­ous train­ing squads, where seven are al­ready in the sys­tem.

WP have been at the fore­front of bowls devel­op­ment, the coura­geous work of Aloma Smith recog­nised by the gover ning body who have se­lected her to the na­tional devel­op­ment stand­ing com­mit­tee.

Her tire­less ef­forts in tak­ing the game to the peo­ple of the Strand and sur­rounds have paid huge div­i­dends; the per­for­mances of the WP youth sides un­matched at na­tional level.

But a lot more needs to be done to pro­mote the game. The over­whelm­ing colour in bowls is white folk… with just a sprin­kling of colour.

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