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About Bowling

History and current stage

A variety of rolling-a-ball-to-hit-a-target kind of games have been around all over the world throughout times. Objects similar to balls and pins have been found from Egypt that are estimated to be older than 7000 years. Bowling like we know it and play now-a-days originates from the United States of America and is an addictive game but the roots of it go back to the religious ceremonies held in medieval Germany. For example on the third century in Germany every villager carried a pin („kegel” in German language) with him for self defense. A man’s loyalty to the church was tested so that the pin was set as a target representing heathenism and then a stone had to be rolled toward it. If the pin fell down then it was a holy proof of that man being loyal and pure of sin.

Such kind of rolling game grew eventually out of religious rituals and it became a mundane and exciting game. Stones were replaced with wooden balls and one pin was replaced with many – starting from three pins and reaching up to 17 pins.
There are many suggestions from Mid-Europe about rolling games being played during medieval times. For example on the year 1325 in Berlin and in Cologne a limit was set on the maximum amount that one could bet on a bowling match. On 1463 in Frankfurt bowling was a part of festive dinners. On 1518 in Breslau the winner of a bowling competition was awarded a bull.

From the German ground bowling spread to Austria, Spain, Switzerland and Nederland. About that time bowling moved to indoor areas, these were shelters where lanes out of wood or sun burnt clay were laid. These „Kegelbahn’s” as they are still called in Germany are often related to postal stations and pubs.

Immigrants from England, Nederland and Germany took their version of the game also to America. The game however had its ups and downs in America. On 1841 the governor of Connecticut declared it illegal and prohibited the playing of all kind of ninepin bowling games. The reason behind this being the huge amount of betting revolving around the game. But all this did not reduce the popularity of the game, on the contrary, many industrial tycoons built bowling lanes into their villas. Some smart guy even invented new rules to avoid breaking the law by adding a tenth pin to the game, changed their positioning and a new game was created. Many different places in America including New York, Ohio and also Illinois are trying to get the glory of establishing bowling during the second half of the 19th century.

President Nixon at the White House
After the establishment of the NBA (National Bowling Association) on the year 1875 also the equipment was standardized and big national competitions got started. Betting was practically eliminated with the help of handing out prizes (also prize money). Even though women were also playing bowling at that time only men were allowed to belong to the American Bowling Congress.

On 1917 the situation changed when in St. Louis the Women's International Congress was established. The stronger female players led by hall owner Dennis Sweeney created the Women's National Bowling Association that started organizing national competitions for women.

On 1909 the renewed game from America was taken over by Sweden and from there it spread rapidly all over Northern Europe. On 1926 the IBA (International Bowling Association) was established by Danish, Finnish, German, Dutch, Norwegian and American sports associations. The first international tournament was held in Sweden on 1924 and from there on in New York City on 1934 and in Berlin on 1936.

The Establishment of FIQ

On 1952 the International Bowling Federation was created (FIQ - The Federation Internationale des Quilleurs). Over the last 30 years bowling had been coordinated by the IBA (International Bowling Association) in order to consolidate the activities of different bowling sections. All previous members were invited to meet to discuss the establishment of a new federation that would coordinate activities all over Europe. The Americans who were one the best bowlers in the world also wanted to join the new organization and so it was decided to establish a global organization called the FIQ.
At first the FIQ had four sections: one bowling section and three ninepin sections as ninepin was more widespread than bowling at that time. With the changes in the structure on 1973 different organizations WTBA and WBBA were created for both disciplines.
On 1954 the first World Championship tournament in bowling was held where 58 athletes from seven countries participated. Until the year 1960 the World Championships were held after every two years and from there on after every four years. On the year 1960 women were allowed to participate in a World Championship tournament tough outside the official competition program. Starting from 1963 women were able to officially compete in World Championship tournaments in their own classification.

On 1979 the IOC (International Olympic Committee) acknowledged FIQ as the official coordinator of the sports of bowling and ninepin in the world this means that FIQ is the only official representative of bowling and ninepin in the world.
The FIQ constitutional obligations:
Propagate the development of bowling and ninepin
Propagate the Olympic movement
Get at least one of the disciplines bowling or ninepin to the Olympics
Establish unified rules
Assure that the athletic activities of bowling and ninepin are in harmony with the Olympic charter

Structure and Leadership

The Council
The Council in the highest organ in the FIQ and is responsible for all the legal issues, membership fees, financial plans and for coordinating the development plans of the FIQ in general. In addition the Council has been authorized to settle all issues that have occurred between the members of FIQ or between the members of FIQ and WTBA/WNBA.

The Council has 11 members with a voting right:
- FIQ President
- FIQ 1 Vice President
- FIQ 2 Vice President
- WTBA President
- WNBA President
- 3 Presidents (WTBA)
- 3 Presidents (WNBA)

The FIQ president and vice presidents are elected after every four years. The rest of the members of the Council are selected by zones and sections of WTBA and WNBA also after every four years. Organizational and other issues are discussed on conferences that take place after every two years (usually at the same place and on the same time as the World Championships). The voting system was as follows until the year 1975: one country, one federation, one vote. Starting from 1975 such voting system was changed because there were countries in which sections of ninepin and bowling that belong under one sub-alliance could not agree on issues. From that time forward the voting system was reformed to be as: one country, two regions, two votes, meaning one member in whose country there are two independent organizations has two votes on the FIQ Council.

In Estonia the leadership of both disciplines is managed by one sub-union similar to the FIQ structure. In the near future it is planned to separate the EKeL and (re)form independent organizations for both disciplines in order to improve and make the management more effective.

FIQ coordinates bowling and ninepin as follows:

Bowling (in Estonia also known as bowling) is coordinated by WTBA (World Tenpin Bowling Association).

Bowling is one of the biggest and best organized sports in the world with more than 100 million enthusiasts, 10 million athletes and 250 000 bowling lanes. Bowling is played all over the world on every continent and in order to improve the management the world is divided into three geographical zones:
- American Zone
- Asian Bowling Federation
- European Tenpin Bowling Federation - ETBF

Year by year bowling has gained more and more popularity amongst enthusiasts and athletes and tens of new members (countries) have joined the organization. At the current moment WTBA has 101 members that by zones are as follows: 27 in America, 31 in Asia and 43 in Europe.

Ninepin (known in Estonia as sport ninepin) is coordinated by WNBA (World Ninepin Bowling Association).

Sport ninepin is divided into sections or sub disciplines:
- Bohle
- Classic
- Schere
This sport is mostly spread on the European continent and has 25 members.

Bowling and ninepin in Estonia

Estonian Bowling Federation (EKeL) was established in 1992, and sees itself as a successor to the Estonian Rolling Game Federation (Eesti Veeremänguliit). Staring from 1992 the EKeL was an observer member to the FIQ and starting from 1993 it became the 85th full member.
From 1993 the EKeL has participated in the world championships in ninepin in the individual as well as in team score in the Swedish Open and in the Polar Cup in Sweden.
Aivar Vadi (EBL president) and Guido Piksar (EKeL president) at the opening of Perona Bowlingu hall in Pärnu in 2001

Bowling arrived to Estonia somewhat later than ninepin, in the year 1996 and then developed rapidly.

To assure the progress and test the skills already in 1997 the Estonians took part of an international competition at the AMF Bowling World Cup in Cairo. After that appearance the Estonian athletes have been actively participated on various tournaments both at home and abroad, mostly in Latvia, Finland, Russia but also in Holland, Sweden, United States, Honduras, Austria and Malaysia where for the first time Estonia was represented by male and female team.

In Estonia the numbers of bowling enthusiasts and athletes have been growing fast and more people are constantly joining. During the evenings most of the bowling halls are filled with people. Perhaps this can be explained by the notion that bowling is suitable for young and old people, and does not set physical requirements or special knowledge and thus people can comprehend the sport and enjoy a fun and active entertainment. Recently also organizing various events in bowling halls starting from kid’s birthday parties up to corporate gatherings has been gaining popularity.

As a sport bowling requires precision, a good sense of coordination, emotional temperance, fast reaction and decision making ability. Achieving top scores in bowling takes years of constant practice, good physical shape, nerves of steel, a lot of time and money meaning it is totally serious sport as any other.

Ninepin in Estonia

1980 – Linnahall ninepin hall
1992 – establishment of EkeL
1993 - FIQ WNBA league
clubs in Estonia - 6
Ninepin halls - 3
Ninepin lanes- 14

Bowling in Estonia

1996 – first hall in Tartu
1997 – first hall in Tallinn
1998 – start on sport activities
1998 – first bowling clubs
1999 – establishment of Estonian Bowling Federation (EBL)
2002 - EBL joins EkeL
2002 - FIQ WTBA member
clubs in Estonia- 12
Registered EBL members: about 246
Enthusiasts:~ 25 000 - 45 000
Bowling halls: 17
Bowling lanes: 120

Today the FIQ has reached a difficult era when it needs to be decided what to do with the present structure. Each section has its own president, each sub union has its own president, the federation has its own president plus two vice presidents, all this is obsolete, very costly and needs to be reformed. The organization’s idea to take bowling and/or ninepin to the Olympic games has not been fulfilled. The two sports are very different in terms of substance and have been evolved unevenly and changed places with each-other during the evolution.

Bowling has reached the Olympic program twice, as an example sport at Paris in 1990 and at Seoul in 1998 as a demonstration sport (amongst badminton and handicapped wheelchair race). The hope of reaching the official program died out when in 2002 the IOC’s (International Olympic Commitee) president Jacques Rogge stated: "Olympic Games cannot grow anymore and their size must be controlled if we want them to succeed in the future”. At the same time he clearly stated that the candidate discipline has to understand that no new sport is added before an already present sport departs. But nevertheless he did not see any other obstacle with adding new sports other than it meets the main criteria as popularity, worldwide public interest, marketing value, equality of genders and being contemporaneous. This means that the terms set by IOC should be met at least when it comes to bowling and the Olympic dream of a bowling athlete will come true some day.

(materials by Marika Lutter)