While there have been no BLI Council meetings since February and there has been no inter club activity on the playing greens the Executive continue to meet regularly by Zoom. I wish to let you know of developments generally and decisions made, some of which will have to be ratified in due course at Council meeting or an A.G.M. A lot of this information was posted already on the website.
All competitions were suspended along with the BLI unfurling scheduled to take place in Westmanstown in April. Subsequently the clubs were surveyed to ascertain their attitude to having curtailed leagues, cups and championships later in the year and from the responses it was obvious there was little or no enthusiasm for competitive bowling in 2020 and some clubs remained closed. All club tournaments were cancelled.
When the restrictions were relaxed, guidelines on social distancing and safe play were sent to the clubs with a recommendation that they have their own protocols to cover their unique circumstances. As the restrictions were eased further another survey was sent to the clubs on the feasibility of having a special competition organised by the Competition Secretary, Stephen Millane.
Player affiliation fees were waived.
The annual prizegiving dinner was cancelled and clubs will not be levied for a ticket.
The Executive recommend that Westmanstown continue to hold the presidency in 2021 and that CYM will hold the vice-presidency. This is in line with decisions made by the I.B.A. and the three Northern Ireland associations. All the other officer positions will be elected by the delegates at the A.G.M. as usual.
The senior and junior inter associations and the national championships will be held at the same venues in 2021 as planned for this year. Similarly the BIBCs will be played in Wales and Cathal Gillen of CYM will compete in the under 25 championships. As a concession anyone who missed out this year and would be over age next year will be allowed to compete.
World Bowls cancelled their championships in Australia and Sarah Kelly of Crumlin who was due to compete there will qualify for next year’s tournament at the same venue.
The I.B.A. Council and management meetings continue to be held by Zoom and this could be the way of the future which for the BLI would eliminate travelling and reduce costs. All competitions were cancelled at an early stage as was the annual dinner. Our clubs will be invoiced for affiliation fees but not for the dinner.
Neil Booth was reappointed international team manager and Tommy Smith as assistant manager for a three year period.
Clubs that entered I.B.A. cup competitions will have their entry fees credited to them for 2021.
The BLI mid-term review was sent to Sport Ireland in July with audited accounts for 2019 and a balance sheet as at July 2020. To be eligible for future grants the BLI must be compliant with a code of governance by December 2021. The Executive have started the process and are confident that we will achieve compliance well before that date. One requirement is a signed Code of Conduct for officers which we intend to introduce at the next A.G.M. This may be extended to committee chairmen and members.
We received our core grant early in the year but as we will not have member affiliation fees the 2020 income will be considerably reduced. On the other hand, without competitions we don’t anticipate much expenditure. Sport Ireland have asked us to report on the financial impact of the pandemic and if we can retain their grant we won’t have a financial problem this year.
Development fund loans have been approved in principle for Crumlin, CYM and Kenilworth subject to the necessary documentation.
Sport Ireland have just announced a financial package for sporting organisations and clubs. It appears to be directed at sports and clubs facing insolvency or experiencing significant drops in their normal income. The documentation for clubs seeking assistance is quite onerous and comparative figures will be required for the last three years. Revenue from ancillary activities like bars or sub-letting will be disregarded. The grants will be routed through the BLI as the national governing body. I will send out details of the scheme separately. Any club that feels they would qualify should get in touch with me or the treasurer so that we can process a claim correctly while fulfilling the criteria.
Review of Constitution/Competition Rules:
The Executive are currently reviewing both documents and will bring motions to the A.G.M. on suggested changes. The proposed amendments will go to the Standing Orders committee first to check their validity and compatibility with other rules and hopefully they will go to the clubs for consideration well in advance of the A.G.M. We have also made contingency plans to hold the A.G.M. in a suitable venue if social distancing is still an issue at that time.
The Development Committee are providing advice to a number of groups who have plans to install new synthetic bowling greens in a town in Co.Waterford, in Rosscarbery in West Cork and in a suburb of Limerick City.
Both Cathal Gillen and Colum O’Brien of CYM are members of the international selectors’ emerging squad and are taking part in training sessions and coaching in Northern Ireland where the rest of the squad are located.
Neil Booth Charity Project:
As you know the Irish international team manager assisted by Shay Tyrrell and Ollie O’Brien have undertaken to visit clubs all over Ireland over a weekend in August playing a short exhibition game of bowls and collecting funds for nominated charities. The BLI have endorsed the project as have the other associations and the Executive have agreed to make a contribution of €200. Participating clubs are asked to subscribe a minimum of €50 and members are encouraged to help the fund raising.
I.B.A. President Dan Dempsey intends to attend the event in Westmanstown B.C.
Finally, I hope that even without BLI competitions your members are getting plenty of bowling in a safe environment in these unusual times and that next year things return to normal.