Niue Lawn Bowls team to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in limbo

Picture [from left to right]: Niue Lawn Bowls President Des Hipa, NISCGA President Maru Talagi, Chef de Mission Tony Edwards, General Manager Sidney Lui

Just three months away from the Commonwealth Games and whether or not the Niue Lawn Bowls team will be going to Birmingham in July is yet to be confirmed as the impasse between Niue Lawn Bowls and the Niue Island Commonwealth Games Association (NISCGA) continues.

Last week the Niue Lawn Bowls sent out an official letter to the NISCGA team officials stating that if the team selected by the President and Executive of Niue Lawn Bowls is not considered by NISCGA then they will have no choice but to withdraw their team. 

This means that there will be no bowlers from the Niue Lawn Bowls Club going to the Commonwealth Games.

However after a meeting yesterday  with the Minister of Sports Hon. Sauni Tongatule, Niue Lawn Bowls President Des Hipa told BCN news that only time will tell depending on circumstances and developments if there is a Niue Lawn Bowls team that will be attending the Games or not. 

Mr. Hipa says that he is hoping for the team to attend but NISCGA President Maru Talagi is unwilling to consider the Niue Lawn Bowls team for Birmingham that Niue Lawn Bowls President and Executive had submitted to the Chef de Mission Tony Edwards and General Manager Sidney Lui on the 4th of April. 

BCN news understands that the Chef de Mission Tony Edwards and General Manager Sidney Lui had  submitted to the Commonwealth Games a different named team that was not authorised nor discussed with the Niue Lawn Bowls prior to the submission. 

In the official letter last week, Niue lawn bowls highlighted that it was “very clear that some of the names of lawn bowlers DO NOT MEET the Entry Conditions & Eligibility for the Commonwealth Games.”

It is understood that the list that Edwards and Lui sent out to the Commonwealth Games include New Zealand-based bowlers. 

And according to the official letter by Niue Lawn Bowls stated that the lawn bowls team sent to the Commonwealth Games “MUST be an affiliated member of the National Authority of World Bowls” which does not include any Niue New Zealand-based bowlers besides the Niue Lawn Bowls association on the island. 

According to Niue Lawn Bowls, the World Bowls current Commonwealth Technical Delegate Kerry Clark strongly advised that  the Niue Lawn Bowls and NISCGA need to resolve this matter. 

Following the advice from Mr. Clark, a formal letter was sent to the President of NISCGA Maru Talagi to address the situation to “follow proper procedure and the authorised right of Niue Lawn Bowls to select its team and not the team as submitted by Chef de Mission Tony Edwards and Sidney Lui.”

Mr. Talagi responded to the letter professionally but was still adamant in supporting the list of names submitted to the Commonwealth Games by Tony Edwards and Sidney Lui. 

Three of the named players from Niue Lawn Bowls were omitted in the team sent to the Commonwealth Games by Edwards and Lui. The players include Gregory Vehala Funaki, Keith Papani, and Catherine Papani. 

The official letter to NISCGA stated that it has always been their objective to “ensure Niue-based lawn bowlers who live and contribute not only to the development of the Lawn Bowls sport on Niue but also to Niue as a whole and its economy and communities.”

The list which includes New Zealand-based bowlers have not participated in the selection phase for any competition and have not returned nor contributed to the Niue Lawn Bowls on the island, according to the official enquiry. 

Niue Lawn Bowls President Des Hipa in an email yesterday morning told BCN news that NISCGA had not responded to their letter. 

And after the meeting with the Minister of Sports, Niue Lawn Bowls President Hipa says that the outcome still remains with NISCGA President unwilling to enter the Niue Lawn Bowls team in the portal for the Niue team attending the Commonwealth Games.

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