Hong Kong has taken a decisive step in reforming its national squad system in a hope to raise the overall standard of the national team and achieve better result at international level.
The changes, which was endorsed at the Committee of Management meeting in early March, covers the ranking games, formation of the squad and the selection process.
The Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association hopes that such reform will result in a more competitive team in the international arena, according to Heron Lau, the Vice-President in charge of international affair.
“Over the years our international standing has been on a decline and we believe it is time for us to do something on the squad system,” said Lau.
“In the past we have selectors who judge players by their reputation or just chose their clubmates.
“This weakens the squad and puts extra burdens on those who are carrying the team. So the first thing we looked at is the selection process.”
The VP-International will become the chairman of the selection panel, with the usual members including the President of HKLBA and five representatives from five first division clubs. Newly included are the National Coach and the National Coach Assistant, who will oversee the training of the squad on a regular basis.
“Their opinions and recommendations, which will be purely based on the players performance during training and national competitions, will have a significant impact on the squad selection. We hope that this will eliminate the element of lobbying in squad selection,” said Lau.
To better reflect the players’ actual ability on different game formats, the rankings for games has also been amended. The 2-4-2 Pairs was taken out because it consisted of a format not usually seen at international level. The Knock-out Singles was also dropped from the list as its current format does not constitute a full competitive game.
Joining the National Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours in the rankings’ games are the Classic Singles and its qualifying matches.
Points accumulated will be kept for three years, with a diminishing weight for each year. The 24 bowlers with the highest points from each gender will be invited for an assessment and from which 15 players and 3 reserves will be selected to the squad for the period of 12 months.
A squad member will have the status extended for 12 months upon achieving one of the following results: reaching at least the play-offs at a world level event; winning a medal at the Asia Pacific level; or won gold medal at Asia level.
Lau is confident that such reform will be good for Hong Kong.
“With the new selection process, we anticipate that players with better potential will be selected.
“They may not bring instant success to Hong Kong, but will definitely help us to build the foundation for a better future.”
Regular training, including overseas training camps, will be arranged for the squad members. The team will also participate at more international competitions to gain exposure as international level.
Claudius Lam is an Officer with the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association.