Ayrshire Bowling Association has been criticised for lack of inclusion of female players in its team for players under the age of 25.

And the area’s top young player has hit out saying that female players should be given the opportunity to wear the Ayrshire jersey alongside their male counterparts.

Darren Weir has represented his county at both under 25 and senior level and he was Scotland’s representative at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in 2015.

He told the Times: “Over the past few years there has been a rule in place that stopped all counties across Scotland from selecting girls under the age of 25.

“However, that rule has now been scrapped so there is no reason why the Ayrshire Bowling Association shouldn’t select girls to play in the county’s U25 team. Many other counties across Scotland select girls for their teams so I’m not sure why Ayrshire have chosen to be different.”

Ayrshire have defended their stance although they say the position will be looked at when their next AGM is held. A spokesman for the ABA said: “Firstly, allowing girls to play officially within the under 25s team only came about this season at the 2019 under 25s AGM.

“The boys under 25s team was originally put together as a development for young male players so they may progress into the Andrew Hamilton team and possibly into the Bowls Scotland team, obviously girls do not play in the AHT.

“It was mentioned that girls previously were allowed to play, but only if enough boys were unavailable to make up the numbers as some Associations at present currently do.”

Darren said that the best players should be in the squad, regardless of their gender and he added: “There is no equivalent tournaments or county games for girls under the age of 25 so they really are missing out. Ayrshire’s job should be to select the best U25 players in the county for the team regardless of their gender.

“We are lucky enough to have some of the nations best U25 female players in Ayrshire from international players to Scottish champions so it’s a shame for them that they aren’t being given the opportunity to play.

“Hopefully the Ayrshire Bowling Association rectifies this issue.”

Ayrshire Bowling Association hinted that changes could be forthcoming and said: “Unfortunately, the directors don’t have a system in place to look at the under 25s girls’ individual bowling development.

“Never at any time did we receive any requests from member clubs to put girls names forward towards the trial as the clubs did for the boys.

“Finally, we as an association intend to put this proposal to play girls within these under 25s competitions at the next Ayrshire AGM and let the members have their say on this subject.”