The second round of Coaching at the Stadium begins on Monday January 11th.  So, once again, I appeal to all members to do their best to enlist new members- it does generate income and help to keep expenses down. There is, of  course, a reduction in fees at this time of year!

Snow – Frost:  can I appeal to all members and visitors not to wear bowling shoes from the car parks to the green.  As you can see, we are salting and sanding, and there is a danger of salt being walked onto the greens from outdoors.  Thank you.

Talking of the greens: again, may I appeal to bowlers not to drop their bowls from the concourse onto the green; also, to try and not drop their bowls from the mat when they are making a delivery.

Another old hoary one: can I appeal again for members to walk up the CENTRE of their rink when following their bowl- and not up the side – it DOES upset players in adjacent rinks – believe it or not!!

Coaching Corner : this month, just for a change, I am going to be a bit controversial.  I am going to comment briefly on the (supposed !) qualities of a good skip.  I DO invite comments for February!   This is a topic no two bowlers are ever going to agree on, but here goes: a good skip should preferably have experience of top level bowling (5 years??); he certainly should be acquainted with the Laws of the Game of Bowls.  He should be proficient in all the shots, and indeed experience in playing in all positions on the rink.

Now, he(she) should have a commanding (not domineering) personality which engenders respect from his rink. He should always be positive in support of his rink, never criticising, never menacing; his body language should equally be positive. He should be a motivator, instilling confidence.  A good skip should know both the strengths and weaknesses of his players, and learn to capitalise accordingly.  I mean that he should be aware of the size and weight of his players’ bowls.  His instructions should be EXPLICIT- with no room for misunderstanding.  He should be able during the trial ends (outdoor) to determine which hands would appear to be truest.

A good skip should be able to assess a head intelligently and accurately; he should be a good tactician, considering each head as it develops, and thinking several shots ahead.  He should never relax himself, or allow his players to lose concentration either.

Finally, a good skip, in my mind, engenders good manners among his rink. He should set the tone of good etiquette, and if his rink loses, he should be a graceful loser. Conversely, if his rink wins, he should not be arrogant or big-headed.

Absolutely finally, if asked what is the key quality we look for in a good skip I would offer : positivity.  What do you think??

Everyone is aware by now of coloured bowls in our sport. Are you however, aware that clear, see-through bowls are now on the market?  Can you imagine the trouble they are going to cause??

Congratulations to Patrick Burns who has qualified for the British National Championships in Perth in March (Junior Singles); Barry Quinn’s rink has also made it through – so well done lads.

On the female side, the following BIBC ladies have also progressed to the Irish Championships to be played in early February at Co Antrim :

Rinks :        Jan Bramley                              Molly Scott

Greta Jeffers                             Marie Tormey

Gladys Taylor                           Pat Smyth

Babs Armstrong                       Sandra Bailie

Triples:       Molly Scott                              Anne McKenna

Moya McGuile                          Valerie Wilson

Pat Smyth                               Karen Woodside

Pairs:         Cliodhna Eadie                         Moya McGuile

Vera McCourt                          Sandra Bailie

Singles:       Esther Myles                          Anita Stanney

The Under 25s Junior Internationals are on 9th and 10th of January in Ballymoney. The AIIB qualifiers start on the 23rd and 24thJanuary – so watch the boards for the draw.

The new Mixed League is getting under way on Saturday January 9th at 12 noon. The draw is on the blue noticeboard in the foyer.

The Club Finals for Men (only) will be on February 20th and 21st.

Postponed games : with the bad weather, PLEASE inform the Office as well as your opponents.

Future dates: unlike last year, there is nothing on the horizon by way of a major disruption to our leagues. But watch this space, as we make our way slowly towards an Ulster summer (!).  Talking of which, we are thinking of extending our summer leagues again – to compete with the weather!  Let us know if you would be interested.

May I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Management Committee, to wish all our members, patrons and visitors a very Happy and Peaceful New Year.