"I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so." Horatio Nelson

Important Covid Updates for NCSMBA Member Clubs

NCSMBA AGM to be delayed

As expected, with the current pandemic still affecting everyday life, the NCSMBA AGM will not be able to take place in June. The NCSMBA Management Committee, under the powers given them in the Constitution, will again delay the AGM until it is possible to hold it which hopefully will be in late summer. The AGM normally takes place in June each year but it is hoped that it can finally be held in August if government restrictions have been lifted. Clubs will of course be informed of the date and venue of the AGM within the timescale outlined in the NCSMBA Constitution. 

Safe Bowls Clubs

With the lifting of some Covid-19 restrictions on Monday 17th May, the clubs that have achieved Safe Club Status will be able to resume sessions again. Norfolk’s Safeguarding Officer Teresa Goldsmith wishes to remind those clubs that they must still abide by all the Covid Safe rules that they previously used when last allowed to meet, if in doubt you should contact her by email or phone. A statement from the ESMBA relating to this appears at the foot of this article. Short mat bowls, as we knew it before the pandemic, remains just a memory. In April we should have been enjoying the highlight of the 2020/21 short mat season with the National Championships taking place and the crowning of the new National Champions. But as we all know too well the National Championship Finals, along with much of what we once took as normal, has gone by the wayside. The entire 2020/21 season has been lost in Norfolk with the exception of some clubs holding a small number of covid safe sessions played under the “Safe Club” restrictions. For many short mat bowlers a major step forward could be taken on June 21st when Step 4 of the Government’s Roadmap out of Covid lockdown is scheduled. The government has stated that on that date they hope to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact and indications were that the UK was on target to achieve this. Recent positive data had indicated that the reopening of pubs and shops earlier this month had not led to a surge in cases. But this week the emergence of the Indian variant has renewed worries that the situation could worsen and the return of short mat bowls as we knew it could be delayed yet again. Never-the-less the optimists among us will see the amazing success of the vaccine programme in the UK as an indication that the worst is over. They have genuine hope that the 2021/22 short mat season can see our sport, and life in general, take on a more familiar feel and once again we will take to the mats to play the sport we love. Time will tell.   

What will happen with Registration Fees?

Questions have been raised by some players about the registration fees paid for the 2020/21 season that failed to take place because of the pandemic. These will be addressed by the Norfolk CSMBA Management Committee and presumably by the ESMBA. Short mat bowlers of clubs in Norfolk that affiliate to the NCSMBA pay an annual fee to the Association and a portion of that fee is then paid to the ESMBA by the NCSMBA. The ESMBA portion of that fee is set at the ESMBA AGM while in Norfolk the portion of the fee paid to the NCSMBA is set at the NCSMBA AGM. On July 23rd 2020 the ESMBA Membership Secretary James Smith contacted County Registration Secretaries regarding the registrations for the 2020/21 season in what he described quite rightly as “these troubled times.” In this communication it was stated that “Additionally, if there is another outbreak or lockdown and the season is interrupted again the Committee will look at extending the membership period from 12 months to 24.” Obviously the fact is that the 2020/21 season has been interrupted more than significantly and basically the season has been lost entirely. Therefore one would assume that the ESMBA, as their Membership Secretary has clearly stated, will now look at extending the membership period from 12 months to 24 months for those that registered for the 2020/21 season. The NCSMBA, having seen its players and clubs denied a season of bowls in 2020/21, will actively consider extending the Norfolk portion of player affiliation fees for another twelve months to cover the 2021/22 season. A positive move taken by the ESMBA is a decision to refund I.C.C entry fees to counties that paid for the 2020-21 season and that no fee is to charged for the 2021-22 Inter-County Championships. For the new I.C.C season the ESMBA are proposing that home and away matches are played on the same day with each team consisting of 8 or 10 players. Once the layout for the new I.C.C format is sent out Counties will be asked to indicate whether they are going to enter. A questionnaire will be sent to Counties in June to gauge opinion on the way forward for the I.C.C in 2022-23. With the semi-finals of the 2019-20 I.C.C season still outstanding the counties who had qualified were asked whether they were still prepared to play their games when possible. All four semi-finalists in the main Premier event (West Mids, Hampshire, Kent & Dorset) have said yes. In the Premier Consolation semi-finals Surrey and East Sussex have said yes but Somerset have decided not to play. A reply was still awaited from Essex Premier. In the main “A” team competition Suffolk, Kent and Cheshire were willing to play but no answer had been received from Wiltshire. In the “A” team Consolation comp West Sussex and Shropshire will play but Somerset said no. No reply had been received from Essex. The results of the questionnaire sent out to qualifiers for the outstanding National Championship Finals produced the following results. Players who had qualified were asked if they were prepared to play the outstanding National Finals in September and 187 said yes while 56 replied no. On the question of if players were prepared to play a local preliminary heat 124 players said no while 49 replied with a yes. The question of if players would play the finals over two weekends 134 said no while 44 said yes. Another question was if players would like to play the group stages over two venues, 128 said no while 49 said yes. The ESMBA agreed to look at possible venues.  

ESMBA Statement dated 13-5-21

The ESMBA Route Map Updated 13th May 2021 Following the Government’s announcement on 10th May 2021, on reducing lockdown restrictions the ESMBA announce the following guidelines for returning to bowls. Clubs will still need to achieve ‘Safe Bowls’ certification to return from 17th May 2021 via the approved route. It is worth noting that at present there is no advice from Government as to what restrictions and what the new normal will be from 21st June 2021. So at present the ESMBA would encourage clubs to undertake the process of ‘Safe Bowls’ certificate for the safety of its members. Clubs with ‘Safe Bowls Status’ may return to bowls from 17th May 2021. Guidance for ‘Safe Bowls’ certified clubs (as updated weekly on the ESMBA Web Page), and their Registered Players. • Safe Bowls rules apply in all Club Roll Ups. • Move to Triples should be confirmed by request in writing to the County Safeguarding Officer who will respond in writing. Additional rules apply to Triples especially no playing of consecutive sessions. • Internal Club competitions may take place Singles, Pairs and Triples (if approved) however these games must adhere strictly to the ‘Rule of Six’, Players cannot change mats, Players cannot play more than the games allowed in the ‘Rule of Six’ within the time frame of 12 hours. Eg A triple can only play 1 game within 12 hours but if 6 Singles players play in a group of 6 they could play each other within the time frame. No substitutes are allowed. • Internal competitive games must be in addition to club roll ups not instead of. They must comply with all the Clubs approved Safe Bowls Protocols including No measuring. • Counties with ‘Safe Bowls Status’ for their venues will be allowed to open but must also adhere to the above. We would remind all ‘Safe Bowls’ clubs and counties that the scheme is for affiliated members only.

Barry Hedges

On behalf of the ESMBA Management Committee