In 2012, as part of the World Bowls Championships held in Adelaide, the Brighton Bowling Club hosted the team from China. They arrived in Adelaide on Wednesday 21st November 2012, being met at the airport by Club members. After being taken to their accommodation at Glenelg, they then made their way to our Club where they were officially greeted by the Club President, John Kirby, then they joined the assembled Pennant players for an afternoon tea. A match was arranged between the Chinese team and our players. After the match, a barbeque was held for all of the players.
On Friday 23rd November, a dinner was held in honour of the Chinese team. Jacky Wong led the Chinese team into the Club grounds where they were greeted by our Club President and two Vice Presidents on their arrival at the Club’s gate. Upon entering the Clubrooms, the whole assembled members stood up and applauded to show the respect and friendliness of the Club towards our visitors.
The Chinese team was more experienced with green speeds of around 11 seconds, which is normally for Northern hemisphere countries. Whereas the World Bowls series was played on greens running at around 18-19 seconds.
The team did remarkably well but did not reach the finals and so our Club treated them to a sight-seeing day out, travelling along the southern beaches and having lunch at Port Elliot, finishing at the Leconfield Winery in McLaren Vale; where they enjoyed the various wines with our Club members’ hospitality.
Friendships were made during the World Bowls Championships with the Chinese team, resulting in our Club being invited to send teams over to Hong Kong and China for the Tiger Bowls Games the following year.
In March 2013, the Brighton Bowling Club sent nine members over to Hong Kong and China to compete in the Tournament. After a sightseeing tour of Hong Kong, they enjoyed a dinner at the Peak followed by a visit to a night-market and a harbour cruise. On the following day, a bowls practice was arranged together with an introduction to the tournament, where our members were presented with two team shirts each. In the evening Jacky Wong hosted a dinner at his bowling Club, the Craigengower Cricket Club.
Two days of bowling followed, with lunch and dinner provided for all the 72 teams playing. After the finals, a formal dinner was provided at the Hong Kong Football Club.
In his opening remarks, Jacky asked the Brighton teams to stand and thanked our Club for the way in which the Chinese team had been hosted, giving Brighton considerable credit for the improvement in China’s ranking in the World Bowls from 23rd to 12th in 2012!
The following day the teams moved to Shenzeng China (about 40km from Hong Kong), to play in the “China Open”. We were listed as “Australia Two” and we found ourselves playing against some national sides. The venue was a beautiful park with two greens on different levels.
After the tournament our team caught the bullet train to Beijing (2,800km in 9 hours) and enjoyed a few days visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and other tourist attractions.
Since 2013 the Club has been invited to send a team every year. In 2015 and 2016 we only sent a men’s team, but our two lady bowlers joined with two ladies from a NSW team to play in Hong Kong.
Our men’s team acquitted themselves well in Hong Kong, finishing as the top overseas team on the first day and making the “cup” section for the second day.
In 2014 the China Open was held in the centre of China at Feng Chui (meaning ‘small village’ with a population of 1.8 million). The site was at a bowls-carpet factory which produces more than half of the bowls-carpet within China. Again, there was a wonderful opening ceremony attended by local dignitaries. We stayed in a quaint hotel about a kilometre from the greens. By day, a throng of children lined the path and wanted photos with the ‘foreigners’.
This tournament was notable in two respects:
- Two players from Canadian National women’s team had visa problems and could not get into China for the first two days. Lynne Nicholson and Pam Grotegoed were asked by the Canadian manager to take their place. Thus, Lynne and Pam remain the only Brighton Bowlers to play in a National team.
- During the tournament our team scored an eight!
At the end of the tournament our hosts took us to China’s first capital, a trip through minor roads passing though many villages and crossing the Yellow River on a pontoon bridge, which finished with a visit to a historical theme-park: quite a memorable day.
The group travelled on a bullet train and visited Beijing again.
The Club sent a team of 4 men to play in a tournament with the same structure as in 2013. At the Hong Kong dinner this time, they had door prizes of 8 sets of new bowls, one of which was won by Geoff Huggard.
For the fourth year, Brighton’s team at the Tiger Bowls tournament in Hong Kong and China has been a great social success. Five members of Brighton were joined by Larry and Rose from Cowell and Denise from Munno Para to make up fours in both the women’s and men’s competitions.
As usual, we had some problems coping with the 9-second greens which were described by the winning England ladies as ‘better than they play on at home’. However, at the end of the competition we proudly agreed that most of us had put at least one bowl in the ditch. The competition was hot, many bowlers having played in Adelaide for the 2012 World Bowls Championship.