By Mick Jensen
Nine hundred indoor bowlers are expected to converge on Ashburton next weekend for the 69th National Open & Masters Indoor Bowls Championship.
The week long tournament (June 9-16) will be played at EA Networks Centre and 70 mats will be rolled out to accommodate singles, pairs, triples and fours competitions.
Mid Canterbury Indoor Bowls president Michael Lawson said hosting the championship for the first time was “a big deal” for the district.
“We’re very excited as an association and we’ve been preparing for it for a while.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play and be involved in previous nationals and it is quite a spectacle to see a large sports hall full of mats and indoor bowlers.”
Mr Lawson said when the sports hall at EA Networks Centre had opened three years ago, local bowlers had seen the opportunity for the district to host a big event like the nationals.
“We filled out all the paperwork and applied and New Zealand Indoor Bowls (NZIB) gave us the go ahead.
“We’ve done a lot of the leg work here in terms of liaising with the venue and sourcing the mats and we’re ready to go.”
He said NZIB would run the large tournament and would efficiently co-ordinate things with just five or six officials.
Mr Lawson said some 56 players from Mid Canterbury’s seven clubs would be involved, the majority playing in the masters section.
Spectators were very welcome to watch and there was no entry charge.
The first weekend will host the open singles tournament, with play starting at 8.30am. Masters’ singles players will roll out from around 3.30pm.
The singles will be followed by the championship pairs on Monday and then the triples and fours.