I am about to embark on my favourite weekend of the year. The State Rookies finals at Raymond Terrace. Lawn Bowls is a game that is often marred by the image of old people in whites pitching a bowl from the hips because of their lack of flexibility, and nothing could be further from the truth, particularly this weekend. Though the game has long been viewed as a retirement sport (which it certainly can be) this weekend will be quite different to that.
To be eligible to be a “rookie” one must not have played for longer that 30 months. Last year we had a young 14-year-old make the finals, and we regularly have juniors make the state finals and two years ago (I think, but it may well have been three) we had a chap well into his eighties. I am pretty sure he would have beaten me a foot race around the block, he was amazing.
To make the state finals, these people will all have won their respective area (or zone as we call them) championships so they are all champions in their own right. They then travel to Raymond Terrace for a weekend of finals action in the hope of being crowned the state champion.
I love the weekend of competition for a number of reasons not the least of which is, I once played in the state finals about one million years ago. But more importantly I love it because here you have players full of love for the game, full of passion for the promise of future success.
We will crown another state champion in both singles and pairs by Sunday and we will also have fifteen singles players and 15 pairs that will know the taste of defeat. Some will be happy to have just got as far as the finals. Some will be fortunate enough to have the trophy in their sights, perhaps even make the final only to fall at the last hurdle. It will be gut wrenching, exciting, painful and it will be wonderful to be a part of it.
As a sports administrator it doesn’t get too much better than this weekend. We get the opportunity to inculcate and educate the next generation of champions, the next generation of club presidents and administrators. In essence we will be setting the scene for the future of the sport for the next ten years perhaps even longer. If we do it well, the sport benefits in the long-term immeasurably. If we stuff it up, well, we wont stuff it up.
We have a great team that works hard on events like these and they all look forward to this rookies event in particular. Simply being around players that have such a love for the game and a yearning for the competition cannot fail to rub off on you. Every member of our team returns from the Rookies weekend tired but also exhilarated and refreshed from the experience as we are reminded what an integral role we play in the future of our sport. Cannot wait.
This year we will be live streaming the event. 10 hours each day Saturday and Sunday, for more information check out the Bowls NSW website. http://www.bowlsnsw.com.au