Bidgee bowled over

Bidgee Classic chairman Bob Blackshaw at the Narrandera greens being maintained by volunteers. Photo: Kim Woods.

More than 130 bowlers from around NSW are set to miss out on their annual outing to Narrandera with the forced cancellation of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend Bidgee Classic Invitational Fours.

This year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all tournaments are cancelled until Government clearance has been received via Bowls NSW,  and it is safe and viable to run events again.

As the tournament is the main bowling event on the club’s annual calendar, the Club together with Three Greens Bistro will feel a huge impact with it not being held.

Bidgee Classic chair Bob Blackshaw said in past years, more than 130 bowlers have travelled from Melbourne, Horsham, Sydney, Merimbula, Goulburn, regional NSW, Victoria and the ACT, together with some of our local bowling districts, to take part in the three-day tournament.

“The journey for some teams takes over six hours but they were keen to make the trip each year to take part in the prestigious tournament that offers an impressive prize pool of $10,000,” Blackshaw said. “Although bowlers responded with sadness the tournament is cancelled, all are understanding and respectful of the Coronavirus restrictions.

“A third of team places have already been filled for the 2021 Tournament – testament to just how much they enjoy visiting Narrandera and participating in the Bidgee Classic.

“Tournament committee members, supported by a large group of dedicated club volunteers, work faultlessly over the three days to ensure guests leave Narrandera with special memories.

“The Queen’s Birthday June long weekend will be very different this year without us working tirelessly to ensure our guests are well looked after.”

Blackshaw said past tournaments would not have been the success they were, or even possible, without the financial and in-kind support received from some local businesses.

“Respectfully, we thank you all again for your past sponsorship and look forward to hopefully joining together again for future tournaments,” he said. “Sameera Bashir has already confirmed she will be back with us in 2021 to give everyone an enjoyable Sunday night.

“Sameera is a huge part of the tournament attractions for bowlers as they just love her and look forward to her fine entertainment on the Sunday evening.

“Narrandera’s local accommodation providers treat our guests with welcoming hospitality and comfortable accommodation every year.

“We receive nothing but positive comments from our guests during their stay, many of whom securing their booking for the next year at checkout time.

“Sadly, our accommodation providers are amongst many businesses feeling the brunt of this virus.

“We also thank you again for looking after our bowlers and they will be in touch with you regarding their standard bookings for 2021.”

Blackshaw said a team of volunteers have been maintaining the greens at the club and the board was yet to make a decision on when bowlers could return.

According to Bowls NSW, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions allow two bowlers per rink or 10 per green. This excludes any staff or official persons on those greens.

In order to comply with this exemption, all clubs, who allow use of greens for practice/roll up, must keep a record of a person’s name and phone number who participate for a period of, at least, four weeks.

They must provide a copy of that record to the Ministry of Health, if required, for the purposes of contact tracing. Social distancing of at least 1.5m must be adhered to as well as all other requirements of the current Public Health Order. Bowls NSW advises no organised social or competition matches be undertaken.

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