Success attracting younger bowlers

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Encouraging young people to get into bowls is a big focus for Meadowbank Bowling Club member Graham Sangster.
As far as he’s concerned, he’s having some good success.
Each Wednesday at 4pm, about a dozen pupils from Waitaki Boys’ High School, Waitaki Girls’ High School and St Kevin’s College head down to the club to play.
Mr Sangster, who has been actively promoting the sport at secondary school in Oamaru for about 10 years, through the school’s respective sports co-ordinators, said this year was the best for numbers so far.
“It’s the most I’ve ever had. I don’t know why that is.” He admitted it had been a challenge to get numbers up.
“It’s just like any other sport. It can be hard to get people to play when there’s other things to do.
“They think it’s an old man’s game, but it’s not an old man’s game. New Zealand bowls have under-18 and under-21 tournaments, so there’s a good breeding ground for people to play younger.”However, he was frustrated the national under-18 and under-21 national championships were only contested as singles events, when many young people preferred to play with a partner.
“Quite a lot want to play doubles, but they can only play singles; that is a bit disappointing.”That does not mean the younger Oamaru players do not have a chance to pair up though.
The group are taking part in the Aoraki secondary schools championships, in male and female singles and doubles, at the West End Bowling Club in Timaru today.
Mr Sangster, who has been involved with the Meadowbank club for 28 years, encouraged young people to give bowls a go.
“It’s a challenge; it’s a game of skill. It’s a challenge to master the game and the bowl as well.”Timothy Algie (16) is one of the young lawn bowlers who plays each week.
He said he enjoyed the social side of the game and hoped to continue.
“Maybe, but I probably will to be honest.”Joshua Wright (16) was at the club for the first time on Wednesday.
“It seemed like a good thing to do on a Wednesday after school . . . it’s great.”
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