The last sports bowling team of Canton Zug fights for titles

On Saturday the Swiss cone championships start in the Bernese Oberland. The canton of Zug is represented by a club. This fights against the aging – and against clichés.

Raphael Biermayr

Facilities such as these in the Kegelsporthalle Allmend, Lucerne, are becoming increasingly scarce. (Image: Manuela Jans-Koch (Lucerne, January 18, 2018))

Facilities such as these in the Kegelsporthalle Allmend, Lucerne, are becoming increasingly scarce. (Image: Manuela Jans-Koch (Lucerne, January 18, 2018))

The mortification is on everyone's lips, the accompanying bowling hardly dies. This says a lot about the importance of this once very popular pastime, which some – very seriously – run as a sport. For example by Franz Aregger. The 63-year-old Chamer is chairman of the bowling club Zugerland, which was founded in 1981 in his presence and is the only one in the canton. He is based in Gasthof Breitfeld in Rotkreuz.

On Saturday the Swiss championships in Heimberg start at Thun. They last longer than five weeks and consist of different competitions: the cantons compete in the same way as the individual players of the respective clubs. Their results ultimately determine the club rating. There are also several Swiss champions, because there are different levels of intensity in all competitions. The KK Zugerland belongs to the highest category A, the canton of Zug, but to the second highest category B. Franz Aregger has experienced several climbs with the canton. Nowadays he is happy when he can play against the canton: a team consists of five players, more winners are not available this year – absences. "We could not start four years ago because a player fell ill shortly before the match," Aregger recalls.

Concentration is needed

Skittles – some of them imagine a smoky, beer and masters' gargling, gloomy room in which old men wrestle and use mysterious terms. In fact, the bowling has a junior problem, as Aregger confirmed. Efforts to combat this are under way, "but it is difficult". The club chairman, however, protects against the aforementioned cliché of riotous sociability during bowling. "The times of Stumpen and beer in severe quantities are long gone. If you want to bow at a certain level, you have to keep your head together and concentrate for up to 45 minutes during the game ", he explains.

Not only the mental fitness decides about success and failure, one hears enthusiastic comments from Franz Aregger. The circumstances also play a role. For example, there are fine or rough tracks that would be played at different speeds. In addition, it is mandatory to play with the balls of the respective organizer. The four railway lines in Heimberg – played in true style in the "Rössli" – would not be the protagonists of the KK Zugerland. They come under pressure this season to be the strongest team in their club (Seetal-Habsburg), so they are the regional figurehead.

Yet almost none of them will reach the final day of the top 20 bowlers, says the veteran Aregger openly. The goal in the club competition was the price that half of all participants received. In the individual players the wreath is probably the highest of feelings. 30 percent of the participants – about 1200 are reported on all categories – receive one. Speaking of wreath: this term belongs to the insider terms that after a nest have a special cone image and give more points. In the Swiss championships, on the other hand, it is easy to keep things simple: "What counts, counts", says Franz Aregger.

The opponent is not affected

Not only the counting method is uncomplicated, but also the interaction between the players. Rivalry is very good, but only in healthy form, explains Aregger. Honesty is a great thing at the bowling alley, there are no antics. Not even so-called unintentional coughing during the decisive pitch of the opponent? "Nothing like that," says Aregger. He started bowling like a teenager after he did not play football for health reasons. Traditionally, as a bowler, he had grown into deep friendships for decades. These will last – regardless of the bowling alley that dies.

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