The successful completion of the Australian National Championships (ANC) in Hobart, Tasmania has driven unprecedented growth across the digital assets of Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA).
The partnership with Strike 3 Bowling, who successfully delivered the newly created event despite the enormous challenges due to COVID-19, has demonstrated its value both on and off the lanes.
“It was a wonderful success both on and off the lanes,” explained Rohan O’Neill, CEO of TBA. “Off the lanes, the digital impact of hosting an event at this time in Australia was a huge result at a time when the Olympics were front of mind for most sports fans.”
“We increased our reach over the 28-day period by 91%, with engagement growing at over 340% during that same period. Clearly, the sport is building momentum despite the obvious challenges that we face as an industry” said O’Neill, speaking to the statistical evidence of the success.
Furthering the point, he highlighted the focus on maximising both TBA’s digital presence and community engagement.
“Building our presence across our digital platforms is critical, both to the existing participants and fans as well as to new audiences. We also saw an increase in social media following from new audiences over the event timeframe as well. Increasing our following by 94% over the 28-day period when compared with the previous 28 days during the event has reaffirmed the importance of national events.”
Reflecting on the struggles of last year and the thought process leading in into 2021, O’Neill expressed TBA’s desire to push through and deliver events for the bowling community.
“In 2020, there were limited tenpin bowling events and for 2021, we decided where possible that we would follow a principle of ‘enabling bowlers to bowl’; hence we did whatever we could to ensure the bowlers who could attend were provided with an exceptional experience.”
“Of course, it was not ideal that many bowlers were unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was a real shame and I know many were excited about travelling to Hobart for the ANC 2021. However, we were rapt that we could safely deliver a first-class event for the hundreds of bowlers who could make it” O’Neill stated, delighted with the ANC’s overall success given the circumstances and noting how pleased participants were that an event was held.
On the lanes, the event was an outstanding success. The schedule was tested numerous times throughout, with flexibility the key. Strike 3 did an extraordinary job of delivering an outstanding event.
O’Neill emphasised the fantastic feats achieved through the carnival by all involved, including a number of historic moments for the sport.
“We had seven perfect 300 games bowled at the event, with two female athletes (Kaitlyn Commane and April Sims) becoming only the 2nd and 3rd female bowlers at this centre to deliver perfection. For April it was her first perfect game, and for Kaitlyn, it capped off a wonderful return to the sport celebrating her recent return to the National Training Squad.”
He highlighted the success of the schedule’s adaptability, which resulted in a tournament first.
“For the first time in the history of Rachuig, the schedule was changed to create a mixed teams event, with males and females competing together. This catered perfectly for the three women’s teams and six men’s teams in attendance. The 5-person team format competing in a head-to-head environment is unique to Rachuig, and seeing the men and women fight it out together on the lanes was wonderful to see.”
The event maintained separate ladders for the men’s and women’s divisions although all teams nine teams played off against each other to determine the eventual winners. Queensland took the title in the men’s division, and Victoria won the women’s division.
With the impact of a sudden lockdown in South East Queensland recently, only four of the Queensland men’s team were in Hobart, requiring one female team member to complete the team. Again, with the flexible approach to the event, tournament organisers decided to include North Queenslander Chloe Jones as the fifth member of the Queensland men’s team to ensure the bowlers in Hobart could compete. The Queenslanders took out the title having tied with the Victorian men on points leading to a count back on pinfall.
The performance of the Victorian women’s team was elite. All members of the Victorian women’s team are part of the National Training Squad and if the event was combined, the Victorian women would have finished equal third out of nine teams. Led by World Cup winner Rebecca Whiting, the team showcased their elite skill on the lanes, performing at a level that experienced Rachuig observers have not seen before. It was an outstanding achievement and capped off an event where equity was a feature. Strike 3 included equal prize money for men and women across the competitions that offered prize money. Previously, the prize pool was reliant on the entries, with often a slightly higher number of men entering than women.
Another exciting feature of this event was that graduates from our international acclaimed Bowl Patrol program for 6–12-year-old featured in the junior events.
“Tenpin Bowling is a unique sport; it is a sport of longevity and as inclusive a sport as you’ll ever come across. The progression of bowlers from our entry level program to representation at State or Territory level further enhances the reputation of Bowl Patrol,” explained O’Neill.
“In addition to the partnership with the International Bowling Federation (IBF) who with TBA will take Bowl Patrol global, we are beginning to see the investment in young bowlers building beyond the participation outcomes to now include performance outcomes.”
In a great sign for the future, some talented young bowlers were able to beat their more experienced competitors in the 58th running of the Australian Masters. Cameron Stein (19 years old from Queensland) and Rebekah Commane (22 years old from Victoria) took out the biggest national event on the calendar. Both have bright futures in the sport and performed under pressure in the Stepladder finals in performances that will go down in folklore for years to come.
Overall and when considering the enormous challenges associated with running the event, Tenpin Bowling Australia couldn’t be happier. O’Neill summarised the feeling of elation that event not only went ahead but was a resounding success and expressed his hopes for the 2022 edition.
“It’s a credit to all involved that we managed to deliver this event. We are very grateful of the support from Events Tasmania and having the event in Hobart was outstanding. We hope to welcome more bowlers next year whilst acknowledging that innovation and flexibility is still at the forefront of our thinking for 2022.”
About Tenpin Bowling Australia
TBA is the National Sporting Organisation to lead the management and development of Tenpin Bowling in Australia. Tenpin Bowling is a sport for all, with no age, size, speed, or strength limitations. Participants can learn at their own pace while having fun with friends, regardless of their individual skill and ability.
About Strike 3 Bowling
Strike 3 Bowling Pty Ltd are Australia’s first truly independent event’s company focusing on elite level bowling tournaments. Strike 3 will promote and run the next two Australian National Championship events in their home city of Hobart. With a wealth of events and operations experience across a multitude of international events in Australia and around the world, the ANC and elite bowling will embark on a new era that is sure to see the sport’s profile in Australia increase dramatically in the years ahead.