After five years, Auckland Bowls is thrilled to bring the National Secondary Schools Tournament back

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With the amazing talent in young bowlers, Auckland Bowls was keen to re-introduce an event where these teens can come together and pit their skills against players from across the country. After holding regional and introductory events Auckland Bowls recognised the need to bring back a National Competition to give Lawn Bowls a serious place in Secondary Schools sports. So come the 26th and 27th of March this year, the tournament, which not only acts as a yardstick of the success of bowls in schools, but also crowns a champion lawn bowls school, will be revived in Auckland.

It’s one of a number of changes that are being trialled by Bowls New Zealand with the aim of growing the game. “Schools are critical to any sport,” says Bowls New Zealand CEO, Mark Cameron, “and bowls is no different. ‘Retirement’ may be seen as the traditional entry-point for the game, but for bowls to thrive, we need to grab players at a younger age.” And players need to grab bowls at a younger age.

It is almost a truism that younger players with their natural dexterity and muscle coordination can have an advantage over their older playing colleagues. “We’re like any other sport in that respect,” observes Cameron “it’s just that we don’t put our older players out to pasture!”

The elite level of bowls is becoming an increasingly younger person’s domain. The recently announced Blackjacks training squad was peppered with millennials: Taylor Bruce (24); Kirsten Edwards (27); and Selina Goddard (24). What’s more, there’s even a smattering of ‘Generation Zers’: Katelyn Inch (23); Seamus Curtin (18); and Taylor Horn (21). “Younger people are hijacking bowls at the top level,” says Cameron, “and that’s why we’re seeing the National Secondary Schools competition as an important nursery for our future bowlers.”

The 2019 National Secondary Schools Tournament will be held in Auckland over two days on the 26th and 27th March. “It’s a Singles and Triples competition,” says Tournament Director Kristina Fry, “Participants represent their school, and are endorsed by their school.”

The tournament will be headquartered at the Carlton Cornwall Club, which was the base for the recent Summerset National Singles & Pairs. “We will be using the same Bowls3Five format which was popularised on SKY TV last year.”

“Because the tournament hasn’t been run since 2014, it’s difficult to know how many schools we’ll see entering,” observes Fry. “But because the Under 18s and Under 21s are not being played this year, it’s the only tournament for young bowlers to test their mettle against their peers.”

Schools can enter online via the Bowls Auckland link

“The Singles and Triples are being run concurrently,” says Fry, “So schools need to select different representatives for each.”

It’ll be a fabulous tournament to see our bowls young blood on show.

-Rob Davis