Night Pennant, a Shining Light for the Sandbelt Region
The Southern District Electric Lawn Bowls Association runs a fantastic Night Pennant Competition that helps enable Bowls Clubs in and around the Sandbelt Bowls Region to bridge the gap between social bowls and competition. Through hard work, collaboration and a willingness to change with the times, the competition continues to grow stronger.
The Southern District Electric Lawn Bowls Association (SDELBA) was formed in 1953 to provide an opportunity for men in the region to play competitive bowls after work. Many of those returning from WW2 who were a little too old to restart their football or cricket careers, flocked to join a Bowls Club. The introduction of SDELBA’s Night Pennant Competition filled a void for all the new club members struggling to get a game.
Decades later, at a time when the number of participating teams was diminishing and some feared the Association may have run its course, the SDELBA Secretary, Bob Baxter, gathered a small group of passionate people to set about revitalising the competition. Together they decided to make the game less formal, encourage women and younger people to join, and cut back the number of ends to ensure matches finished at a reasonable hour. These initiatives proved a major success, and before long the Night Pennant Competition was as popular as ever before.
Participation and growth
The SDELBA Night Pennant Competition runs for 14 weeks between November and March. Last season the competition had 46 teams from 27 participating clubs. The Association is hopeful more teams and clubs will join for the upcoming season.
“Some use the game for practice, many teams put their new bowlers in with experienced bowlers to help introduce them to the game. They also use the game to groom bowlers in various positions, for example a lead graduating to third, or a second to skip,” explains Bev Baxter from the SDELBA Match Committee.
“Some use it as a chance for the coaches to see players they would not normally see in a competitive game. The Night Pennant Competition also gives a chance to players that can’t play on the normal pennant days due to work, family or other commitments.”
SDELBA has relaxed its boundaries over the years and is always on the lookout for new clubs to join.
“The more relaxed, friendly competition has led to a better atmosphere and an increase in female participation,” Bob says. “Younger players are also attracted to the competition through barefoot bowls.”
Through the use of a system that incorporates club delegates, the Night Pennant Competition can be modified to suit the majority. Some of the recent changes include the introduction of a slightly earlier start, the shortening to 17 ends, and no dead ends.
Want to know more about the SDELBA Night Pennant Competition? Visit the Sandbelt Bowls Region website here