Sad day for Happy Achievers

A tenpin bowling league for people with disabilities has ended after three decades of competition on a Saturday afternoon in Morwell.

It is a sad and disappointing time for the Happy Achievers Disabled Tenpin Bowling League secretary Janice Rowley and parent Louise Varsaci, who say most members will not understand why they can no longer bowl.

“My son is not aware,” Ms Varsaci said.

“He’ll put his bowling shirt on Saturday and we’ll have to say, ‘no Josh, no bowling’, and he’ll do that every week for God knows how long until it sinks in.”

The league has come to an end following a public dispute between the new owners of the Morwell bowling alley and the league’s committee.

The league was told the bowlers’ usual 2pm Saturday timeslot was no longer available due to future business plans for the bowling centre.

But a mooted Saturday morning change did not sit well with Ms Rowley, who said families often planned their day around the afternoon activity and if change was to occur, they needed ample time to adjust.

“People come from Sale to Trafalgar; they play basketball or netball [in the] morning and then they have their tenpin bowling in the afternoon,” Ms Rowley said.

“Parents work, it (the 2pm timeslot) works for carers, because most of them are busy elsewhere and the afternoon just suits everybody better.”

Wyncity general manager Edi De Pellegrin, whose family took over the business in May, cited a reinvigorated business plan for the family facility.

She said the centre would remain a bowling alley, but laser tag, bumper cars and a glow mini golf arena would be among future additions.

Ms De Pellegrin said the 2pm timeslot was key in the bowling industry to host a wide range of activities such as birthday parties, functions and other events.

“To monopolise the lanes doesn’t work with our business plan,” Ms De Pellegrin said.

“There will be a lot of colour lights, a lot of noise; it wouldn’t be conducive in terms of an environment for the development of (all-abilities) bowlers.”

The owners have decided to start an entirely new league that would be open to people of all abilities on a Saturday morning and offer both coaching and competition.

Ms De Pellegrin said she did not see how the plans would not “have a positive impact”, despite the Happy Achievers no longer feeling welcome.

Ms Varsaci said the bowling league for people with a disability had enabled her 12 year-old son to fully participate in the sport without feeling ostracised or “left on the bench”.

She felt as though there was no room for negotiation with the new bowling alley owners and would now work out options so her son did not miss out on the sport he loved.

The Happy Achievers met for a final presentation night earlier this month, capping off 30 years of bowling in Morwell.