Lawn bowls is unlikely to be played on the Northern Rivers anytime soon. Photo Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus
Lawn bowls is unlikely to be played on the Northern Rivers anytime soon. Photo Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Coronavirus could cripple lawn bowls on the Northern Rivers

LAWN bowls could reach crisis point on the Northern Rivers with a mass player exodus expected as clubs remain shutdown during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ballina bowls cordinator and Zone One president Kris Lehfeldt believes the sport will struggle when they return to the greens.

Zone One covers Grafton to Tweed and has 3000 bowlers registered with 1700 based on the Northern Rivers.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if 1000 of them don’t come back after this,” Lehfeldt said.

“We’re going to have to work hard to convince a lot of the older ones.

“There would be 75 per cent of bowlers in our zone who are already over 70.

“We get 90 bowlers (at Cherry Street Sports Club) on Wednesday and I could see us losing a lot of them.”

Lehfeldt said there would likely be no club or social play on the greens until the licensed venues were allowed to reopen.

“The way it’s set up I can’t see one operating without the other,” he said.

“So we’re probably looking at a September return.

“I think a lot of smaller clubs in the region will struggle to come back from this.”

There is some hope for Northern Rivers bowlers, with Lehfeldt expecting Bowls NSW to provide financial support.

“Bowlers fees cost between $90-$100 a year and $80 of that goes to Bowls Australia and Bowls NSW,” he said.

“I believe we only keep an average of 18 per cent in our zone so hopefully they’ll be able to help us out.”

Meanwhile, World Bowls and Bowls Australia have agreed to a rescheduled date for the postponed world championships that were to be held this year on the Gold Coast from May 26 to June 7.

The new date is May 25 to June 6, 2021.

This will be followed by the $275,000 Australian Open on the Gold Coast from June 12-25, 2021.