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(taken from the WSMBA rule book)
The origins of the game are lost in the mists of time but it is thought that the game was first played by two South Africans living in South Wales, who, fed up with the wet climate and not able to play bowls outdoors, simulated the game indoors. They later moved to Northern Ireland and introduced the game there.
This is similar to another version of the origin in which the game is reputed to have started in the 1920s in Northern Ireland when an outdoor team had their bowls match rained off and took refuge in their local church hall. To pass the time they started bowling on the bare floor until someone suggested it would be easier to bowl on a carpet.
The first record of a club is that Ballymacarret Presbyterian Church which has a photograph dated 1929 showing the Minister bowling on a 3ft wide mat through a hoop. Other references to that past period mention playing with no fenders or touchers and even a flat multi-sided wooden jack which is still in existence.
The Welsh Short Mat Bowls Association was formed in 1987 to introduce and develop the game throughout Wales. County associations were formed before this, the earliest being Clwyd, followed by Gwynedd and then Montgomery. All clubs and counties who play short mat bowls in Wales are eligible to affiliate to the WSMBA and to take part in its activities. The Governing Body of the WSMBA comprises elected members from the counties or regions and has subsidiary committees specifically covering umpiring and coaching. The WSMBA is responsible for organising and selecting the Welsh team to play in international matches as well as arranging the national competitions.