Tumut women Joy Schroder, Sam Goodman and Mandy Shoard created history at Club Tumut on Sunday as they shared the greens during Tumut’s grade six pennants victory over Tumbarumba.
Never before had women played with their male counterparts in pennants or championships but this recently changed after a landma0rk decision by Royal NSW Bowling Association
Royal NSW Bowls Association CEO Greg Helm explained the decision to remove any gender requirements surrounding membership.
“The Bowls NSW Board of Directors has resolved that effective October 1, 2019, the requirement to be male in gender to register with Bowls NSW under the Bowls NSW constitution and regulations will be removed,” Helm said.
“The removal of gender restriction will allow member clubs and affiliated sub-clubs to register persons of any gender as an individual member or registered player with Bowls NSW and allow them to compete in Association Events.
“In 2020, Bowls NSW Association events will be played as open gender, allowing all eligible registered players to enter and compete.”
According to Club Tumut CEO Jarrad Rossiter, this Bowls NSW decision has been received well by the club and men’s bowling fraternity.
“Times have changed and so have the club’s values and the men have welcomed the women into their club,” Rossiter said.
“We have always said that we need to play together and if you are good enough to play pennants, that’s all that should matter.”
Rossiter furthered explained that it wasn’t just pennants and championships that mattered either and that it was good to see more women involved socially.
“It’s good for pennants but it’s also good socially, the more bowlers on the greens the better,” he said.
The Club Tumut CEO furthered explained that there were no favours given in the selection of pennant teams either.
“We had trials and all the women who attended will get a go; it’s just a matter of times, player availabilities and team selection,” Rossiter said.
Sam Goodman, who was enjoying her time on the greens on Sunday, explained why she decided to join Bowls NSW.
“I work and ladies play pennants and championships during the week, while the men play theirs on the weekend,” Goodman said.
“It’s hard for working women.”
Goodman’s decision, along with other women following in her stead, have paid a price though and cannot compete in women’s pennants or championships while being a member of Bowls NSW.
“We can’t do both, we are not allowed,” Goodman said.
“It’s unfortunate but for the chance to actually play championships and pennants, it’s definitely worth it.”
Rossiter, who is in favour of men and women bowlers joining forces, believes that an amalgamation is on the cards.
“In the interest of the betterment of the game, Bowls NSW and Women’s Bowls NSW should come together,” he said.
“It is still early stages but it will eventually happen but the sooner the better”
In the mean time, women like Goodman, Schroder and Shoard, and fellow trail blazers Anne Huebner and Mel Mende, will continue competing with the men and setting a precedent for future women bowlers.