LAWN bowls, anyone?
Although not as popular as basketball, boxing and football, lawn bowls is now taking giant steps to boost the popularity of the game and earn its rightful place in Philippine sports.
The Philippine Lawn Bowls Association is making sure all bases are covered.
“We’re doing everything we can to boost the popularity of lawn bowls ang bring it closer to the people,” said PLBA founder-president Ronalyn Redima-Greenlees during the 17th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
Greenlees said the Filipinos’ overall performance in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games in Clark last December is a step in the right direction.
Now, the PLBA is looking at the next big one: the World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia on September, 2021.
“This is the big one. This is our own Olympics. This is held every four years,” added Greenlees during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“Dapat ngayong taon ito, pero hindi natuloy last June. Malaki ang tsansa natin dito. The last time we competed, nakakuha kami ng bronze medal,” added Greenlees, who learned to play lawn bowls from her British husband when they moved to Pampanga since the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions in 1991.
Asked about the Filipinos” performance in the last SEA Games:
“I think we did very well in the last SEA Games. We won one gold, three silvers and two bronzes. Lahat ng atleta natin, nakakuha ng medal,” recalled Greenlees, who served as competition manager of the 2019 SEA Games Lawn Bowls.
“I was expecting more than that kasi homecourt tayo. Iniisip ko makakapag-praktis kami ng maayos before the competition. Pero as everybody knows, 40 days before the SEA Games, wala pa kaming venue. We constructed our own venue for national team. Kami po ang gumawa ng pinaglaruan namin.”
Greenlees, who teamed-up with Nenita Tabiano to win the bronze medal in the SEAG women’s pair event last year, lamented the decision of the Vietnam SEAG Organizing committee to exclude lawn bowls in next year’s SEA Games.
“Unfortunately, walang lawn bowls sa Vietnam next year. May lawn bowls sila pero not properly organized yet and they don’t have a chance na makakuha ng medal. Ang grupo nila doon hindi pa masyadong malakas kaya di sinali ng mismong organizers,” explained the 49-year-old pride of Pasacao, Camarines Sur.
Greenless thanked the PSC, Philippine Olympic Committee and Clark Development Corporation for their continued support to lawn bowls.
“With their help, patuloy lang ang training namin, lalo na may sarili na kaming venue dito sa may Friendship Gate ng Clark. Hindi kami nagbabayad at walang sumisipa-sipa sa amin. We can train as much as we want kahit anong araw, kahit anong oras,” claimed Greenlees, now the most senior member of the national team.
Greenlees takes pride in what the PLBA has accomplished since being recognized by the POC as the official NSA in 1999. The Filipino competed for the first time in the 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia where they won a silver medal courtesy of Greenlees and one bronze medal.
This year, the PLBA was officially recognized by its International Federation last May.
“I am very happy na madami na ang naglalaro ngayon ng lawn bowls simula magkaroon kami ng sariling facilities, na ipinahiram sa amin ng Clark Development Corporation. Madami ng mga batang naglalaro as young as 16-17 years old. Right now, I train about 20 youngsters, kasama na yun mute and deaf na pwede sa Para Games.”
A taekwondo practitioner, Greenlees admitted most sports fans still do not know a lot about lawn bowls.
“It is different from bowling, na kailangan ng mas malakas na puwersa to hit the pins. Sa lawn bowls, iba ang diskarte. Parang nagpu-put sa golf. You need to find the line to be able to get into the hole. Ang pagkakaiba lang, pag nakalapit lang sa Jack, which is the target equivalent sa billiard ball. Pag nakalapit ang kalaban, pwede mong tanggalin ng malakas na bola yung kalaban para lumayo sa puting bola or you hit the white ball so kailangan mo rin malakas tumira para matanggal ang kalaban. It depends on the situation.”
Greenlees said lawn bowls is very popular in the Commonwealth Games.
“It is very popular in Commonwealth countries, like Australia. Ang mga players dun pag 35 years old na, kick out na sa team. Pero dito wala pa masyadong magagaling na players, kaya pwede pa ako. Dati ako ang pinakabatang naglalaro ng lawn bowls, ngayon ako na ang pinakamatanda.”
The lack of venues in other cities and provinces remains as the biggest obstacle, however.
“We need a big space. It is very expensive to maintain, too. We have a place near Coconut Grove before pero close na dahil parang kinakain yata ng dagat ng Bauang, La Union yun.”
“Mabuti na lang at napagawan kami ng PHISGOC at CDC ng venue sa Clark, kung hindi wala na po ang lawn bowls sa Pilipinas. Dati meron sa Nomad Sports Club sa Merville, Parañaque at Angeles. Pati sa Cebu at Bohol.”
“Sa lawn bowls, ang isang green is 40 x 40 meters. Kailangan flat na flat at saka very fine ang grass. Kailangan siya gupitan everyday.”
She said the outbreak of the coronavirus disease did not have a big effect in their training.
….“Fortunately, lawn bowls is a non-contact sport tapos malaki pa ang field na nagagamit namin from CDC. Ngayon, ina-allow na din ang paglabas ng 15 to 65 years old so they’re back. Mabuti naman at walang problema ang mga atleta namin. Walang tinamaan ng COVID sa aming hanay.”
Asked about the future of lawn bowls in the coutry, Greenlees painted a bright picture.
“Hindi naman sa pagma-mayabang, sa ibang bansa, kilalang-kilala kami. Nagka-gold na tayo twice sa singles sa Asia Pacific. Naka-gold na din kami ng triples sa New Zealand. Sa World Championships, we have numerous medals.”
“As I’ve said earlier, yung World Championship parang Olympics na every four years lang kaya kailangan mag-qualify muna sa Asia, then Asia Pacific. Pag nag-qualify, that’s the only time that you can play for the Worlds. I can say No. 2 tayo in Asia behind Malaysia,” said Greenlees.
With Greenlees taking the lead, it’s just a matter of time before lawn bowls will become another favorite sport of the Filipinos.