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'Turf war' forgotten as young hopes get ready

Sport | Published:

THE Hougue du Pommier stadium hosted the women's world indoor championships between 1990 and 1993, and again in 1996, but history will be made this week when the world under-25 championships come to Guernsey for the first time.

THE Hougue du Pommier stadium hosted the women's world indoor championships between 1990 and 1993, and again in 1996, but history will be made this week when the world under-25 championships come to Guernsey for the first time. And, although it was disappointing to learn that the southern hemisphere countries have withdrawn from membership of the World Indoor Bowls Council, a strong field will assemble in search of men's, women's and mixed pairs titles.

Young players from Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong have always done well in this junior event, but there is a turf war going on, and, as WIBC secretary Brian Davies explained: 'certain countries no longer recognised the WIBC as having governance over the indoor game'.

Having previously been held in Wales and Ireland, the juniors have competed at Jersey's Grainville stadium for the past two years, but this year Dan de la Mare and Lianna Bichard will be trying to make their home advantage tell.

They will be up against the best youngsters from the four home countries, plus the Isle of Man, Canada and Malaysia - though the holders of the two singles titles, Amy Monkhouse and Jamie Hill, will not be defending their crowns.

Young de la Mare, who has been at the centre of a political storm, has a chance to show he can rise above the rumpus by winning the men's title.

He has been grouped with last year's runner-up Wayne Hogg, from Scotland, England's Mark Dawes, Welsh hope Gavin Abrahams, Manxman Edward Alderson and Malaysian Afrizal Shuhaimi.

In the women's event, Bichard heads a strong group which includes last year's runner-up Catherine McMillam (who was Catherine Beattie last year), England star Sian Gordon, Kelly Packwood (a champion disco dancer from Wales), and two Malaysians, Intan Kamara-uzaman and Erda Firdayu Saroji.

'This is an important competition in that it gives these young players added experience of playing at the top level,' said Davies. 'Not only does it aid their bowling development, it helps to develop their social skills in mixing with players from other countries.'

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He added: 'We are proud to say that these are the official world indoor under-25 singles world championships.'

A mixed pairs, in which players are drawn together irrespective of nationality, was introduced last year, and proved popular. 'Again, it forms part of their social development to mix with other players of different cultures,' says Davies.

'All who took part last year asked for it to be retained and it's wonderful to see the interaction which develops within the group after they have played in the pairs,' he adds. 'It sets the tone for the week.'

De la Mare will team up with Norshafeenaz Yahya, one of the intensively coached Malaysians, while Bichard has been drawn to partner Welsh junior champion Abrahams.

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'I'm really looking forward to thew tournament and particularlyy playing alongside Gavin Abrahams,' said Bichard.

'We are both looking forward to meeting up with the competitors we have met in previous years,' she added.

'There is always a really good atmosphere and it is great to hav the opportunity to mix with some of the world's best.'

Play starts tomorrow and will culminate on Sunday evening with the finals of the men's and women's singles championships.

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