An interesting email with name supplied but to be treaded unanimously arrived at Radio 5RM Sport late last week.

Quoting from the document it said “There is considerable disquiet amongst the Riverland Bowling Community about where the traditional ladies competition (Wednesday morning) is heading now that it has gone open gender. There is no doubt that the playing of men in the competition has allowed for many clubs to remain viable with their numbers and thus keep the competition healthy as far as the number of teams is concerned. But now men of a very good standard are playing in the lower grades and division one itself cannot can no longer be regarded as a true test of who has the best ladies team.”

The email suggested it would be interesting to get Charlie Charlton and Dixie Lee’s opinion on the matter on5RM’s “Sports Saturday” program and also to talk to female members of the Bowls Riverland Board and also to other female players.

The email went on “It would be interesting to talk about “the spirit of the game” and ask whether a genuine ladies competition has been lost? Are some ladies missing out on a game because of male inclusion or do some feel intimidated by the presence of men, especially by those men who may be playing at a higher standard than normally expected for some of the lower ladies competition grades.”

On 5RM’S “Sports Saturday” program last weekend Dixie Lee agreed that men playing in the Wednesday Pennant competition had boosted numbers for the benefit of some individual clubs as well as helped to keep three separate divisions operating. No men and he felt a division at least could be lost and the structure of the total concept of the day could be under threat. He did understand how a lot of ladies must feel at the loss of their ‘women’s competition’ that had gone on for many years.

As he has done many times he raised the possibility of considering a Saturday Women’s competition to cater for what could be a number of younger ladies who can not play during the week because of  family or employment committments.

Dixie was particularly interested in the “spirit of the game” comment. He felt some clubs were putting premierships before the sport but accepted that open gender arrangements stipulated teams being selected on merit. He agreed that men from the higher divisions of Saturday bowls playing in the lower Wednesday Pennant grades seemed unreasonable and even unfair. And if any lady was missing out on a game as a result that was also a negative when the game did not boast an over supply of players. It was also raised that it would be interesting to establish if the considerable number of bowlers who had suggested they would quit the game, male and female, if open gender arrived, had in fact done so.

On Monday morning the President of Bowls Riverland Des Button telephoned and complimented the 5RM program then advised that by coincidence his Board had in fact dealt with some of the issues during the previous week. A notice had been issued to all clubs on the matter.

The Board acknowledged that continuous complaints had been received about higher division players from Saturday playing in the lower divisions of Wednesday Pennants.

It considered this was “not in the spirit of the game”.

On the other hand the Board also considered top division lady players competing in Saturday’s Division Three Gold, the bottom competition, was unacceptable.

While reluctant to impose further rules and regulations the Board stated that if these practices continued advice on a Code Of Practice may need to be considered.

Commenting on the matter of men playing in Wednesday Pennants Mr Button stated that in the previous round over 40 men had appeared. He agreed that in some cases this would have allowed some clubs to field a side. He also felt it enabled the three divisions to be maintained.

Des Button will appear on “Sports Saturday” this week.l