Lawn bowls in India has been moving through a rebuilding phase in recent times, but last month’s series of high level meetings between the nation’s leading sporting bodies and executives from World Bowls, the global governing authority of the flat green game, are set to drive the game forward on the sub continent.
Bowls has been played in India since the first green was established at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in 1830. And although it was primarily a sport for ex-patriot Britons, it did experience strong local growth and many excellent clubs were established over the ensuing century. However, with the exit of British rule in the 1950’s, the game fell into disrepair and all but disappeared.
But the true believers rejuvenated their beloved sport in 1985 when the Bowling Federation of India (BFI) was formed, and in 2010 it hosted the Delhi Commonwealth Games bowls competition at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The recent meetings between World Bowls president John Bell and chief executive Gary Smith; with Mr Injeti Srinvas, Director General of the Sports Authority of India; and with BFI president Miss Sunaina Kumari, her executive colleagues and regional delegates from across the country, will have far-ranging benefits for the sport in India.
Messrs Bell and Smith were briefed by BFI officials on the current status of the sport and its progress in India, then took the opportunity to highlight the World Bowls Development Strategy and outline how World Bowls can assist India to advance towards its full potential.
The meeting with Mr Srinvas also showcased the Development Strategy and how World Bowls could assist BFI with the progression of the sport in India. It was stressed how well Indian bowlers had performed at recent international events and the necessity for them to participate in as many major competitions as possible to raise their international experience and performance standard.
Other topics included the difficulty experienced in obtaining bowls equipment in India, especially costs factors, to which Mr Srinvas gave strong indications that BFI could be eligible for customs duty exemptions in this regard.
The director general demonstrated good knowledge of issues relating to the construction of bowling greens and the different types of surfaces available. He also fully appreciated the aims of the World Bowls Development Strategy and that World Bowls is willing to commit assistance to develop the sport in his country.
World Bowls sees tremendous potential for the growth of lawn bowls in India and will assist the Bowling Federation of India to fulfil that potential and build on its recent successes at international level.