Suffolk bowls ‘sexism’ row as women told they can’t wear shorts

New English Bowls Federation rules allow male players to wear shorts, although women are not granted

New English Bowls Federation rules allow male players to wear shorts, although women are not granted the same right. Picture: PA/PHIL NOBLE - Credit: PA

A local bowls secretary has defended a player who voiced her anger at new rules that disallow women from wearing shorts.

The English Bowling Federation and English Women's Bowling Federation have recently updated their rules - which already included strict guidelines on dress - to allow male players to wear shorts.

Despite the change for male players, which came in at the beginning of this season in April, female players must still wear trousers or a double-pleated skirt that covers the knees.

The federation's rules even instruct players to wear only white or cream undergarments in certain competitions.

One local female player, who does not wish to be named in fear of bringing her club into disrepute, said: "It is blatant sexism.

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"I have been playing bowls for 15 years, it is a fantastic game but it can be so antiquated.

"I absolutely want to wear shorts, when it was first announced that shorts would be added to the game, lots of women I know bought pairs of shorts only to be told at the start of the season that they are for men only.

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"In other countries, men and women get to wear shorts of the brightest colours and closer to home, female golf players can wear shorts, so why should bowls players be any different?"

She added a compromise could be made in the way of "skorts", a skirt with shorts stitched inside.

John Calver, secretary of the California Bowls Club agreed with the notion that women should have more choice.

He said: "I'm sure ladies would appreciate the choice rather being dictated upon.

"Many of our players are husband and wife teams, and I'm sure the husbands would like to see their wives allowed to wear what they wish.

"There are still some Victorians in the bowls world that are very old fashioned and stuck in their ways."

Mr Calver added the sport needs to embrace change and appeal to the younger generation to survive: "If the sport doesn't change and start embracing younger people - who wouldn't like being dictated upon either - then it really is a dying sport.

"I definitely don't see a problem with women wearing shorts, but unfortunately rules are rules and won't be changed which is a great shame."

Linda Nunn, chairman of the Suffolk County Women's Bowls Association added that female players are able to wear trousers cropped above the ankle, and those who wish to wear shorts should raise the issue at an annual general meeting.

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