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Is Cyprus’ ten-pin bowling a dying game? December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Sports & Games.
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Despite being enjoyed by millions of people around the world, like other small sports in Cyprus, bowling is struggling to keep its head above the water

Need it take another Marcos Baghdatis to show his skills in the bowling world for Cyprus to stand up and take note of its local talent? What do I mean? Well, nobody really knew anything about Marcos nor did they want to, so he went to France. Now he’s famous, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. And he plays a sport that millions follow.

Ten-pin bowling, lesser known and promoted, is now supported less than ever, despite youngsters with clear talent stepping forward to try to make a name for themselves. Let’s start with Demetris Ioannides, who is only 16 years old. At 14, he was the youngest Cypriot to have ever competed in the AMF World Championships, a right he earned by maintaining a higher average than anyone else trying out. Surely, coaching and nurturing of this talent at such a tender age, would result in a young man in his mid-twenties confident and capable of putting Cyprus on the map, albeit in the bowling world. Of course, many people see ten-pin bowling as a lesser sport, which cannot compare to tennis, golf, and definitely not football, however, it is nevertheless, a bone fide sport that millions worldwide play, compete and train for.

It doesn’t just consist of throwing a very heavy ball at a set of pins, it is, in fact, a game highly reliant on skill, careful judgement, strict bodily control and precision. If you’ve ever played ten-pin bowling, then you might have used brute strength to hurl the ball, which may have landed with a horrendous thud on the lane, and knock the pins down, but, in hitting the centre pin or kingpin as its known, you ended up with what’s called a “split”, 1 pin on either side and an almost impossible shot. You would have said something like, “That’s bad luck”. But it isn’t. It’s bad judgement and had you hurled your ball a fraction to either side of where you did, you might have knocked all the pins down.

In previous years, coverage of the Pancyprian finals was shown on LTV/Alfa TV. Now, no TV coverage is given because there is no sponsorship for it. Each bowling centre in Cyprus hosts a regional league, regular meeting of teams, for a local competition. Each team is responsible for finding its own sponsors because the Cyprus Bowling Federation cannot afford to pay the entry for all of them. So this year, as a result, for the first time in 12 years, there will not be a deaf team competing, as they couldn’t find sponsorship. The members of this team, comprising solely of people who are deaf, are possibly the most sportsmanlike of anyone, playing from the heart, enjoying the thrill of healthy competition without malice, jealousy or ill-feeling. Sponsorship costs approximately £800 per year for a team at the Limassol Bowling Club and that includes annual fees and registrations, the cost of all games and competition entries, printed t-shirts for team members, advertising on the inside walls of the bowling club, listing in the newspaper for rankings, and inclusion on the website. In addition to this, generally, members of the bowling club try to support those businesses that support them.

Although it’s not a pittance, one would venture to say that the right business could easily justify such a budget during the year, and in turn, would be supporting the local community.

So, basically, anyone with talent is expected to pay for their kit, lessons/coaching, travel expenses to competitions and so forth, and, even if they come back a winner, are still not guaranteed local recognition. Take Costas Kyriakos for example. He won a bronze medal in the European Challenge Individual. Michalis Perikleous won a gold medal in the Mens’ Singles Division at the Gold Cup this year and together with Elena Lazarou, also won a gold medal in the Mixed Doubles. That very same competition, the Gold Cup, which rotates countries each year, will be held in Cyprus for 2007, yet who knows about it?

Although every year, Cyprus sends two representatives, one female, one male, to the World Cup, the most important international competition in which no less than 75 countries compete, this year, again due to lack of sponsorship, it is not possible. The competition is in Venezuala, which is too costly a trip for the Cyprus Bowling Federation to support on its own. Previous locations have included Latvia, Thailand, Las Vegas, and Malaysia, which were closer and therefore cheaper to send participants to.

An additional point of interest is that the National Team of Cyprus actually takes turns each year between males and females, again, because of lack of sponsorship for participation. In 2006, there will be a male National Team and in 2007, there will be a female National Team representing Cyprus in international competitions.

To replace the World Cup this year, is the inaugural Cyprus Open: a competition comprising seven tournaments, in Nicosia, Kyrenia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, and Famagusta, with a major double points tournament being held in Paphos. Each tournament expects around 120 entrants including many youngsters such as Demetris Ioannides. The competition is organised by Marios Nicolaides, an avid bowler, coach, pro-shop director, and unchallenged President of the Limassol Bowling Club, elected every two years. It is the first time such a competition will be held and in order to entice entrants, boasts a prize of £1,200 for first place with an additional £300 being awarded at any stage of the competition should an entrant manage to achieve a perfect score, 12 strikes in a row, of 300. Women and children under 16 are handicapped to make the competition fair for all entrants. The Limassol segment or Limassol Open was held last week.

As for next year? Who knows? The winner and runner-up of the Cyprus Open will represent Cyprus in the Mediterranean Cup in Turkey next year and the winner will also represent Cyprus in the European Cup Individuals, but neither of those are the World Cup. Is Cyprus destined to remain devoid of international sporting acclaim? It seems so, I guess we should be thankful for Marcos Baghdatis.

The Nicosia Open, the last of the regional tournaments finishes today at Kykkos Bowling in Engomi. 10.30 to 7.30. The Cyprus Open will take place in Paphos from December 27 to January 9. For further information see >  www.bowlingcy.com

Bowling Centres in Cyprus >
Limassol Bowling Centre, Limassol, tel 25 370414
Space Bowling, Limassol, tel 25 310000
Rock ‘n Bowl, Larnaca, tel 24 822777
K-Max, Larnaca, tel 77778373
Cookatoos, Paphos, tel 26 822004
Cosmic Bowling, Paphos, tel 26 220033
Kykkos Bowling, Nicosia, tel 22 351007

Related Links > http://www.cbf.com.cy (Cyprus Bowling Federation)

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