Bowls gender uproar

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 21 April 2013 | 19.55

REGIONAL bowls organisations are likely to defy a Bowls Tasmania directive that gender-specific pennant competitions be abolished next season.

The changes will allow men and women to play in any team at any level without being bound by present rules that require them to play bowls on separate days in separate competitions.

Men and women can play together in barefoot and lower-tier competitions, but pennant is men only and women only.

The break from the tradition of men-only and women-only competition has angered many bowlers who want to keep Thursday as ladies' pennant day and Saturday for the men.

Bowls Tasmania South this week told Bowls Tasmania it would not introduce non-gender specific pennants next season.

A Bowls Tasmania South survey found most emembers were against abandoning separate pennants.

Secretary Rob McGuire said almost half the group's 970 players responded to the voluntary survey, indicating great interest in the issue.

Mr McGuire said while he could not rule out members accepting mixed gender pennants in future, the change for next season had been received as a Bowls Tasmania directive and was issued without due consultation.

He said older players were those most against it.

"Generally, older people don't like change and it would be fair to say that there were more older people playing bowls than younger people," he said.

"I believe we cater for all comers in Southern Tasmania by having the women's and men's during the week, the men on Saturday and the mixed competition on Saturday."

North Western Tasmanian Bowls Association secretary Glen Stephens said while the branch was yet to vote on the issue, a members' survey indicated most favoured continuation of gender-specific bowls.

Bowls Tasmania chief executive Maxine Viney said the national push to remove the gender split in pennant competitions was driven by young players.

In Victoria and South Australia, mixed gender pennants are now played after anti-discrimination court cases.

"The younger generation coming into bowls, they don't see the gap between men and women," Ms Viney said.

"As they take a more active role in bowls, they see the advantage of the changes, and ask why do we need to have a separate pennant for men and women?

"Why can't we all play together because it's not a game of physical strength? They are the ones who are pushing it."

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