The Federación Andaluz de Bolos (FAB), the governing body for all lawn bowls related sports in Andalucía, has announced that it will resume play this year after more than three months in lockdown. Lawn bowls clubs along the Costa del Sol have slowly begun to open their greens, although some are showing concern for the future of the sport on the coast. All of the federated clubs in the province have suffered from loss of income associated with the cancellation of touring teams that usually arrive during the spring, and it is looking extremely unlikely that teams from the UK will visit the coast this autumn due to Covid-19 related complications.
Local bowls clubs are also concerned that their own members may be reluctant to return this winter season, especially seeing as most members are senior citizens. The sport seems to have been more severely hit in the UK, with some greens still not open and most national competitions cancelled for the season.
Bowling Abroad representative Ron Scott has been organising bowling tours on the Costa del Sol for more than 20 years, but he has had to cancel all plans to come this year.
"We bring teams from the UK to the Costa del Sol every year, but all tours have been cancelled due to Covid-19, and they will not resume until 2021. It is such a shame, because we are always made welcome and all our clubs enjoy playing on the coast, but we need to put health and safety first," he explained to SUR in English.
First English-speaking club
Lawn bowls, believed to have been developed by the Egyptians, has been popular in Malaga since 1976, when a group of like-minded expats founded the first English-speaking club in Fuengirola, appropriately named the First Lawn Bowls Club. There are now several clubs located along the coast and these all participate in the Malaga Winter League, which runs from October until March. In order to prepare for the league, most clubs are currently appealing for new members, as Mijas Lawn Bowls Club secretary John Wilson pointed out.
"Our existing membership includes Spanish, UK, Irish and Dutch nationals, but we would like to expose this great sport to a wider audience. Our club is involved in the local Malaga League during the winter season, but we play throughout the year. We are currently accepting applications for membership from bowlers who are interested in taking part in either the social or competitive side of this sport," he said.
The Malaga league consists of three divisions: The Tigers and The Lions, which have eight teams in each; and the recently created Jaguars division, which has four teams.
"There is a lot of competitive bowling in the province of Malaga. Every club has its own Open, plus the varied competitions that are held. However, probably the most keenly contested is the weekly league," John said.
The league consists of 20 teams from clubs in Estepona, Marbella, Alhaurín de la Torre, Calahonda, Mijas and Mollina, all of which are governed by the Malaga Committee. This association acts as administrative facilitators and is also the governing body for umpires. Funded by the FAB, The Umpires Association holds courses and exams for both Markers and Umpires throughout the year.
Seeing as there will be little chance of teams visiting from the UK this year, many of the clubs are organising in-house competitions in order to get ready for the winter league.
Most clubs welcome day visitors and can normally provide the use of bowls. Some also offer free introductory coaching as part of the normal green fees for day visitors or prospective members.
"It is a relatively cheap sport and ideal for those who find golf and racquet sports a bit too strenuous," John concluded.