Origins of Bowls in Belgium
In the Spring of 1986 a British Champion, Jayne Morgan, came via her marriage to Belgium. In October of 1985 she had won “The Waterloo” in Blackpool, a very sought after title, by beating more than 2000 other bowlers.
On October 1st 1986, together with her husband Jerzy Iwanicki, they set up the Curve Bowls Promotion Centre, with the aim of promoting the game of Bowls. Originally there were only 2 clubs, Genval, Brussels (est. 1954 - Flat Green), and Beveren, East Flanders (est. Dec 1985 - Indoor).
They decided to make this sport popular in Belgium under the name of “Curve Bowls”, hence the name Curve Bowls in the Belgian bowls world.
The Short Mat bowls was the most interesting variation of bowls to promote, because it could be played in sport centres. The only thing to do was to convince the sport centres of this calm and bealitiful sport, which was receiving more and more interest from the bowlers because of the coverage of Bowls on the B.B.C. from England.
The beginnings of Bowls in Belgium
The Foundation date was 1st June 1988. Official starting date being 16 April 1989.
The first committee was elected and formed on the 16th April, taken from the 15 people present at this first meeting. The secretariat was located at Kempenstraat 125, 3610 Diepenbeek, the home of the secretary.
President: Iwanicki Jerzy
National Chairman: (Short-mat) Loix Ghislain
National Secretary: Morgan Jayne
National Treasurer: Hayen Raoul
Vice-Chairman: Pirs Georges
Vice-Treasurer: Gielen Jos
The other people present at the meeting formed the general committee.
This executive committee worked under it’s own power on the emergence of Bowls and was given the name of Belgian Curve Bowls Federation.
Ontstaan er de eerste Shortmat-Bowls clubs in Vlaanderen, nl. “De Gems” in Diepenbeek en ”De Herk” in St.-Lambrechts-Herk (Hasselt).
Participation in the first official world championships in Horwich, England with a team of 11 players. Also our first Belgian National Championships were held in October of this year.
Establishment of the Superbowls, a series of competitions which are held in the Flemish part of Belgium. These competitions take place on 8 or 10 Sundays and every player or pairs team plays 4 matches on each day. Together with the Belgian National Championships they make up a ranking, which after 2 years, gives the right to take part in the World Championships, European Championships and other important national or international competitions.
Belgium requested to host the World Championships, to be held in Diepenbeek. But after several differences of opinions within the federation it was decided that we should wait a few years because of the lack of experience in hosting a World Championship.
Resignation: To our astonishment, the chairmen and committee members of the Short Mat and the Outdoor Association, and the committee members of the Federation received the signed resignation of Jerzy (Jurek) Iwanicki and Jayne Morgan the founders of Curve Bowls in Belgium. This was to take into effect from 14th November. They were at that time respectively President and Secretary within the Federation. It was needless to say that they were both accepted as Honorary Members of the Federation.
New committee: On the l5th May a new committee was elected: Chairman: Loix Ghislain; Vice-Chairman: De Koninck Gustaaf; Secretary: Gielen Jan; Treasurer: Hayen Raoul; Vice-Treasurer: Pirs Georges; Coördinators: Dediste Ghislain.
Statutes for the Belgian Curve Bowls Federation were compiled and handed out to all clubs. These statutes were put together along the lines of those of petanque in Belgium.
The Belgian Curve Bowls Federation joins an acknowledged Belgian Folk sport federation - VOSCO - a non pro fit organisation. The Belgian Curve Bowls Federation is recognised and joins the World Short Mat Bowls Council and pays the £20 that is required as membership. The first umpires lessons were given by Jurek Iwanicki, who already had an umpires certificatel which he had earlier received in England.
The first ten umpire’s diplomas were given out after an oral examination. These diplomas were declared sufficient to be able to lead a national or international competition at the previous World Council meeting.
In May we met some of the biggest names in Bowls in the Media Centre in Ostend. Richard Corsie and Alex Marshall were present and Ghislain Loix and Jan Gielen had the honour of pitting their wits against the champions. Earlier, in 1989, Richard Corsie and John Bell as well as some other internationals were present at the opening of the Greenhill indoor bowls centre in Putte.
The new Belgian Team shirts were purchased. They were of a light blue colour with the emblem of the Belgian Curve Bowls Federation. These were to be worn for the first timer at the World Championships in St Helens, England on the 29th and 30th Apri1. Previously the Belgian Team had yellow shirts.
Change of name: The Belgian Curve Bowls Federation still remains but from the 12th February it divides into the Flemish Curve Bowls Federation and the Wallonian Curve Bowls Federation. The executive committee of the B.C.B.F and the F.C.B.F remains the same.
Up to now Bowls has been played only in the Flemish part of Belgium and because of the large growth in the Flemish provinces it was decided to start up a Flemish Curve Bowls Federation.
The name of the Belgian Curve Bowls Federation (B.C.B.F. ) remains in use because of the following reasons:
1 - B.C.B.F. remains the controlling body of Bowls (Curve Bowls) in Belgium.
2 - Since 1994 is the B.C.B.F. recognised by the World Short Mat Bowls Council.
Podium Places: During the past years we have managed to obtain many podium places in the World Championships, such as twice winning a third place in the World Championships Triples. Last year in the European Championships in Lowestoft, organised by the E.S.M.B.A. we won the 1st place in the Pairs and Fours competition and also a joint 3rd place in the Triples.
On the request of the Chairman of the Federation, Ghislain Loix, Jonathan Payne offered his services to help with the correspondence between the Belgian Federation and that of the British Isles. The reason being that Jonathan was born in England and has been living in Belgium for the last 11 years, therefore having a good knowledge of both languages. Also he is a member of the B.C.B.F. and we look forward to a good working relationship.
Raoul Hayen serves his resignation to the B.C.B.F. after 10 years of being Treasurer to the Federation. He has been replaced by Robert Martens. Our congratulations and thanks go to Raoul for those last 10 years of loyal service. Again needless to say he has taken up as an honorary member of the Belgian Curve Bowls Federation.
News magazine: Since the beginning of January a magazine has been published by the Federation. Every four months this magazine is put together and edited by our Vice-Chairman, Johan Stevens.
New committee: On the lst April a new committee was elected: Chairman: Loix Ghislain; Vice-Chairman: Stevens Johan; Secretary: Gielen Jan; Assistant-Secretary: Payne Jonathan; Treasurer: Martens Robert; Assistant-Treasurer: Schelfhout Roger; Co-ordinator: Bourgonjon Julien; Assistant-Co-ordinator: François Tony; Head Umpire: Havermans Hubert; Other members: Froyen Jean, Braem Maria, Van de Sande Bart; English Correspondent: Payne Jonathan.
The Netherlands: To clarify the situation, neither the Belgian Curve Bowls Federation nor the Flemish Curve Bowls Federation has ever had a connection with The Netherlands, not in the beginning or now. The only thing that has happened between us and our Dutch neighbours is an international competition in Tilburg, NL. and a few friendly club matches.
The existence of Bowls in Belgium is as it has here been described to you.
Number of Members: In the last number of years Bowls in Belgium has realised a massive growth. We can now say with pride that at this moment in time there are about 1400 people who participate in the sport. Every week there are new clubs coming into existence from all parts of Flanders.
During the previous W.K. In St. Helens we asked the World Bowls Association to organize a European Championship in Belgium in 2002, since in 2002 major sporting events took place in Flanders.
Also to organize the World Championship in 2008, following England in 2006. The W.K. is held every 2 years.
At the last meeting during the W.K. in Douglas - Isle of Man, we received a favorable answer to these questions. The Belgian Federation must give a date to the World Federation to set up a "European Championship" or a "European Open" in 2002. For 2008 it is as good as certain that Belgium will organize the World Championships.