With Australia on the cusp of an exciting Commonwealth Games campaign on the Gold Coast in April, the sport of bowls is set for a monumental year in 2018 as all levels of the sport bound together to drive the sport forward.
One of many people at grassroots level helping lead that charge is Shane Smith of the Quinns Rocks Bowling Club.
Shane arrived at the club around three years ago via corporate bowls and has become an increasingly passionate member at the club, which is known for its great social culture as part of the wider Quinns Rocks Sports Club.
Regional Bowls Manager for Western Australia (North/East) Clive Adams sat down with Shane to discuss his bowls journey and contribution in bringing new generations of bowlers through the ranks.
Clive Adams: How did you get into bowls?
Shane Smith: My first experience of playing bowls was in a corporate bowls competition at Quinns. We had a group of six of us that rotated through a full season, which covered if someone wanted to sit out or simply wasn’t available. My mother-in-law played bowls, so I knew a bit about it, but hadn’t considered that it was for me until that corporate season. After that, I was hooked.
CC: Did you play other sports?
SS: Certainly. I played Aussies Rules for West Perth Colts and then Amateurs and I also played a bit of cricket. MotoX was another one – I think I was perhaps the oldest MotoX racer in WA – they called me the ‘Senior Cruiser.’ The fact is though, the competitive spirit has always been there and it’s bowls that is now the focus.
CA: What were your thoughts on Pennant Bowls?
SS: I always thought that I wasn’t good enough to play the more competitive levels of bowls. I was nervous enough playing socially at the club, scared I would do something wrong and upset someone. For six months, I just played socially before I was reassured by other members of the club that I would be fine playing pennant, and so I had a go. I was a bit nervous but I settled in quickly and I haven’t looked back. I love the team game appeal of bowls but I also love the variety of formats available – from the beginner, social type formats, to the more serious competitive side – I love it all.
CA: How did your first year go?
SS: Well things went quite well. I won the club novice singles and went on to finish runner-up in the state novice Champion of Champions, plus I also won the club triples and pairs, and finished runner-up in the fours. I’m gradually making my way through the ranks, having played a bit of top division bowls last year, and I’m still striving to improve my game and learning all the time.
CA: Tell us about Jack Attack and your involvement.
SS: I’ve been working with John Dilley and the team on our Jack Attack program. We’ve had corporate bowls for a few years but we decided to try the new Jack Attack format, and honestly the club has truly embraced the concept. We started by encouraging members to bring along family and friends on a Friday night, have a game of bowls, a meal afterwards and just generally have a good time. We play music while everyone is playing and I grab the mic, get around and chat to everyone while they play. The players love it. We still maintain our corporate bowls crowd on Thursdays but Jack Attack has given us something different for Friday nights at the club. Numbers continue to grow which is a great sign that everyone is having a good time.
CA: What about juniors?
SS: This is an area that I am very passionate about. Young people should be out playing sport – not just bowls, every sport. I went to our members and encouraged them to get their kids and grandkids involved. I engaged our club coach, Don McKenzie, to be available on Saturday mornings and, honestly, I’ve been amazed at the skill level of the group we have been coaching. We have started with a small group, but already we have them involved in Jack Attack and in other social formats, especially throughout the school holidays. The kids are discovering the sport, having a great time and are asking more and more to be involved with bowls. We have had a visit from the state coach, Ken Perks, and I have been working closely with RBM Clive Adams and with Bowls WA who have loaned us some equipment to get us started. The next step will be getting involved with our local schools in the new year, through Sporting Schools funding available to primary schools across Australia. The club will have double figure entries for our novice singles event this year, which just shows the number of new bowlers that we are getting.
For more information on the social and junior formats of the game like Jack Attack and Jr. Jack Attack, or simply to discuss the future of your club, get in touch with your local Regional Bowls Manager.
Contribution by Clive Adams – Regional Bowls Manager (WA – North/East)