In the past few months, 19-year-old Peppi Konsteri, the youngest player on Finland's national women's team, experienced a real rollercoaster of emotions. Initially chosen to stand for Finland at the World Championship in Kuwait, she was enthusiastic about the prospect of representing her nation. But these dreams were shattered when Finnish Bowling Federation raised concerns regarding the expected lack of participating countries and the frequent modifications to the schedule by the International Bowling Federation (IBF). As a result, FBA decided to reverse course and join Sweden, Norway, U.S., another countries in pulling out its national teams from the upcoming championship.
'Obviously, it is hard for any player to first of all plan their season ahead,' Peppi Konsteri reflected current IBF turmoil in an interview with Erikas Jansonas from 'BowlingLife.eu', 'First, you’re going to World Championships and soon you’re not. Or you’re under the idea that there’s no World Championships (World Youth Championships last year) and out of nowhere, a couple of months before there is. It is frustrating.'
It wasn't the first time Peppi's plans were disrupted by last-minute changes in the IBF.
'For example, last year I was supposed to go to PWBA for the first time, but then IBF finally confirmed that there will be the World Youth Championships just a couple of months before the initial start, which changed my plans completely. Luckily, I hadn’t booked anything yet.'
However, the continual alterations in the timetable and the ineffective communication between IBF and member federations constitute only a single facet of the situation.
When asked about the federation's decision to opt out and the delicate balance between moral decisions and natural eagerness to excel at the highest level, Peppi revealed that the key thing that is currently lacking from the IBF is a genuine recognition for players they deserve.
'When it comes to our team, everyone was ready for either decision. Coaches asked us what do we want to do with the championships and we were all on the same page,' she explained. 'So, for me, I don’t even know which decision I would have preferred. Obviously, I would love to play in the World Championships again, since representing my country is the most important thing to me, but at the same time, I wish there was more respect for us players.'
With constant changes and great disturbance in the IBF, Peppi admitted, that her future in representing her nation in the future World Championships is uncertain and that the current issues at the IBF could potentially affect the motivation of young players to represent their countries hereafter.
'I’m sure it can affect it. Many would rather go somewhere that’s certain instead of living in uncertainty. <...> It’s either gonna be that, or it will reduce the respect of the World Championships and make youth focus more on the professional tour.' Peppi Konsteri said. 'For me as the youngest in the team, the future scares me a little. I’ve only been to four World Championships, where one was with adults, and right now it doesn’t look promising for me to have more chances.'
With the IBF General Meeting set to take place in Kuwait, and the 2023 World Championships still on the table, the future remains uncertain. Finland's young bowling talent wished for a collective introspection within the bowling community. She yearned for a return to a time when the championships held the respect and aspiration of every bowler.
'I wish we could take a couple of steps back with basically everything,' Peppi said. 'When it comes to the leader, I don’t have anyone specific in mind, I just hope there would be someone who puts bowling and bowlers first as it should be. I hope one day we could go back to the championships that every bowler respects and wants to play.'
The 2023 World Championships is scheduled to take place from October 3rd to October 15th, 2023, in Salmiya, Kuwait.
Responding to the insufficient number of participating nations, The World Championships have been opened to all IBF Member Federations for participation, IBF Executive Board announced earlier this week.