Young stars roll into town

by admin on February 12, 2014

The Northern Territory will host this year’s Australian Under-18 Championships, with the Nightcliff Bowling Club confirmed as the venue, as Doug Booth reports for the Northern Territory News. Staged from September 29 to October 2, each state and territory will converge on the Top End’s greens, with 10 players, five boys and five girls, competing in singles, pairs, triples and fours. Over the years, the competition has proved to be a successful nursery for the likes of Commonwealth Games gold medallists Lynsey Armitage and Mark Casey, as well as current world number six Kelsey Cottrell. With NSW sweeping all major accolades last year, including the boys, girls and overall trophies, the challengers will be queuing up, with the right to be known as the nation’s best. The Nightcliff club will take on the challenge on bringing this event to the NT on behalf of Bowls NT and Bowls Australia. The four-day event will be played on Nightcliff’s two synthetic greens. Club president Mick McDonnell said work has already started on preparing for the tournament. ‘‘The committee is already in place and they have been working hard to ensure the planning of this national event goes off without a hitch,’’ McDonnell said. ‘‘To date the committee has gained the support of the local bowls club and worked with the 2013 host club in WA to plan the 2014 event in the Top End. A marketing and business plan is being developed which will include media coverage and sponsorship.” President of Bowls NT Stan Smolski congratulated Nightcliff and all NT bowls clubs for supporting the event. ‘‘The NT Department of Sport and Recreation has made a one-off grant of $7000 to assist Bowls NT to host the series,’’ Smolski said. ‘‘The NT Government’s financial assistance is a great kick-start to assist the organising committee to bring this event to fruition.’’ Nightcliff’s Owen Short played off for the gold medal in the 2013 under-18 singles event. Owen went down by five shots to take silver which was an excellent achievement. In the girls’ section, Shae Smith finished fifth overall, again a great effort. NT Bowls are looking for a new under-18s coach after Jade Groenewege resigned. Before his departure, Groenewege praised the progress the under-18s made. ‘‘Playing against the best young players in Australia has improved the teams’ bowling performance overall,’’ he said. ‘‘With continued practice and participation in this year’s pennant season they will continue to gain the experience to achieve success in later years.’’ Bowls NT and the local bowling clubs are looking for young players to take up the sport of lawn bowls with the aim of making the NT State side in 2014. Players such as 15-year-old Smith recently returned from the Australian championships in Sydney and has been named in the NT Ladies side to play in Australian series in Burnie in April. Lawn bowls has changed dramatically over the past decade with a huge increase in the number of young men and women now playing. The overall age of the NSW men’s side to play in the 2014 Australian series is younger than the Australian Test cricket side. This has led to a new saying for lawn bowls: ‘‘It’s a young person’s game that old people are now allowed to play.’’ To be part of the fun of lawn bowls go to the Bowls NT website for information. Who knows? You may be part of the under-18 State side in 2014. Cheryl Simpson, the manager of the under-18 team, is keen to hear from any player who would like to become involved. Players must be under 18 years of age as of October 2, 2014 to be eligible to compete and must be selected by their state or territory association. The running of a national event requires both volunteers and sponsorship.