INTERNATIONAL competitor Gary McNabb believes the coronavirus pandemic could set the sport of bowls back five years if not longer.
McNabb, who was named Ulster Herald Sports Personality of the Year in 2015 after winning the UK Open Short Mat Championships and making his debut for Ireland in the Home Nations, says bowls will be severely impacted on a number of fronts.
The Fintona Pearses Bowling Club member believes Covid will see a reduction in participation levels at the extreme ends of the scale, and is predicting that a number of tournaments played in local halls will “fall by the wayside.”
“A lot of those tournaments simply won’t be played again in my opinion,” he said.
“Covid will impact on juveniles entering the game because a lot of them may have first been introduced to the game by their grandparents. But it’s also going to impact greatly on the older generation.
“People around my age group are the ones who push on and play at the higher level but a lot of ‘qualifying’ tournaments run in local halls were often organised by older or retired people. Some of those people might not return never mind the worry around the safety aspect of a return of indoor sports.
“Of course when we all get to the other side of the pandemic there will be a lot of people like myself who will be even hungrier to play but I do believe in terms of the very young and the older generation there will almost certainly be a drop off in terms of numbers playing the game.”
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