February 22, 2014
PBA ACCEPTS 13 NEW MEMBERS FROM CHINA
Feb 19, 2014 04:27
The PBA recently accepted membership applications from 13 Chinese bowlers, the first players from their country to join the PBA. China becomes the 27th country represented among PBA’s more than 3,000 members.
China, one of 38 member nations in the World Bowling Asian Zone, has sent players to compete in World Bowling tournaments and now hopes its country will be represented in PBA competition by the time PBA World Series of Bowling VI rolls around this fall.
The PBA recently received its first memberships from China thanks to the efforts of Frank Ningbo Zhao, president of Longmarch Bowling, a bowling center chain, bowling ball manufacturer and equipment supplier based out of Shanghai City.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in China and an economy that began to experience significant growth in the 1980s, the world’s most populated country (1.3 billion) experienced a boom period followed by a debut in Asian Zone competition. According to Zhao, the first centers were opened in China in the late 1980s and by the late ‘90s, the bowling boom peaked at roughly 30,000 new bowling lanes. But like Japan before it, the boom began to fizzle.
After 10 years of maintaining itself, the Chinese bowling market began to experience new growth in 2010, including a renewed interest in high-level competition. While there are thousands of bowlers in the country, until this year, none had sought to reach PBA-level standards.
Following a meeting with PBA Commissioner Tom Clark in Las Vegas, Zhao invited Walter Ray Williams Jr. to China. Williams’ visit inspired Zhao to organize a “Pioneers League” designed to give players a chance to record recognized averages. The 13 players who averaged 200-plus in the special league are the first group to apply for PBA membership.
“Chinese bowlers are very excited about this,” Zhao said. “They are so proud of being a PBA member. They will soon come to play in PBA tournaments. They know they are not isolated any more and some may start to dream to be the first Chinese to win a PBA title.”
Zhao said the advancement has already had “an immeasurable impact” on the Chinese bowling industry and “it will certainly help the growth and development of bowling in China.”