Over the past few seasons, a glaring problem with our game is the weak numbers of competitive bowlers rising from our youth ranks into the world of adult competitive bowling. I personally think that these low numbers are contributing to the overall numbers problem that we have here in Southern Ontario.
In the Masters and various "cash" tournaments in Ontario, we have seen a steady decline in numbers to the point where tournaments are disappearing altogether. While many feel that the most noticeable reason is the past players no longer showing up to bowl, for various reasons. I feel that the lack of younger players coming to these events are directly relative to these past players' absences being noted.
When I was in my last few years of YBC, there were roughly a dozen young bowlers in my age group (2 or 3 years younger/older) that could step right into the adult ranks at a competitive level and play with the "big boys" in my zone alone. Having this steady stream of young bowlers entering Open qualifications and money events allowed the older players that no longer had these events as a priority (as opposed to families, work obligations etc) to simply not attend without a very large impact on the overall events. While the younger bowlers may not see success early in their adult careers, they get introduced to the world of competitive bowling, see what they need to do to get better and WANT to get better. This allows for a smooth cycle of competitive bowlers.
While the decline is very alarming, I truly believe that help is on the way. In Ontario there seems to be a very healthy level of youth competition in zones like York Simcoe and Ottawa Valley, not to mention the 5pin killer in Edmonton, Jennifer Baker. I think with the continued success of our youth will only encourage more in their programs to follow those footsteps laid out for them to begin a strong cycle again. However, we need to be sure that with that talent and willingness to get better, we have accessible coaching for them as well. We need to advertise and promote not only events that the youth can play now, but what could lie ahead for them in the future. I don't think it's any surprise that the youth in Ontario have already been introduced to our Ontario Open or Masters events before they've reached the required age to play in these events.
That being said, any youths out there that would like information on events, like attending the Ontario Open or any Province's Open, send me an email and I'll try to get you some info. I'm located in Ontario so I know my home province's events best but perhaps someone from other provinces can leave some contact info in the comments section so that everyone can be looked after in the event that they would like to know more. Otherwise, send me an email to FIVEPINBLOG@LIVE.CA and I'll see what sort of info I can pass along your way.