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Bowlers missing social scene in Inverness as season faces cancellation

By Will Clark

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MEMBERS of bowling clubs in Inverness are missing out on the social aspect the sport brings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is estimated up to 70 per cent of bowlers in Inverness are in an age group which are at a greater risk if they contract Covid-19.

The summer bowling season was due to start this month, but all five clubs in Inverness have been forced to cancel their official openings on the greens.

Inverness Bowling Club president Matthew Sloggie fears a bowl won’t be thrown in competitive action at all in 2020.

He says it is a devastating blow for the bowling community in the city as they won’t get to enjoy the friendly, as well as competitive side of the game.

“Bowls has a social side of things where everyone likes to play during Tuesday and Friday and come down for a laugh, see each other and have fun,” he said.

“There is a competitive side, but it is more for the social side of things as they like to see each other and make sure everybody is ok.

“The sport itself is an ageing sport unfortunately, and maybe 60 to 70 per cent of the members are in the critical age group where they have to stay at home, and it is worrying.”

The summer bowls season is due to take place from April and September, but Mr Sloggie says there is only limited time they will be able to play any competitions before deciding to write off 2020 completely.

He said: "There are no competitions, no greens are open and all clubs have postponed their openings,” he said.

“Everything is on hold until such time the restrictions are slackened and even then it will be difficult for social distancing.

“If we get into June or July, there is no chance of playing club competitions and having them completed on time.

“Certainly there won’t be Scottish competitions being played as the finals in Ayr are due to take place in July.”

Sloggie says while no clubs are in danger of closing down in Inverness, it will have a financial impact.

“The financial implications is all clubs rely on open competitions as well as receiving sponsorship,” he said.

“That money is not coming in, if you are not playing the competitions the doors are not open for the rest of the bowling community to come in and give support.

“Most of our members would go and play in various competitions and support each other. Without that network of clubs having open competitions, it is going to be struggle for all clubs this year.

Bowls may be in a better position to handle social distancing rather than others but Sloggie says it will still present problems as well as keep up maintenance.

“There are six rinks you could have four people per rink only using three rinks and put other measures into place.

“But the clubhouse facilities wouldn’t be open, kitchen wouldn’t be open.

“That is the difficult thing with it, we would love to see people back using the facilities unfortunately Covid-19 stop anything from growing, the grass and the weeds growing, we still have to maintain the place and keep the place in good shape.”

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