On Tuesday, the National Secondary Schools Tournament returns to the Summer of Bowls calendar, after a 5-year hiatus.
Contestants in the two-day tournament will be playing for three new trophies donated by the Auckland Centre – boys’ singles, girls’ singles and combination triples.
Play will start at 11:00am on the Tuesday at Mt Eden, Remuera, Balmoral and Carlton Cornwall Bowling Clubs, enabling players to fly or drive in to Auckland on the morning of the tournament. Four qualifying rounds will be played with a fifth on Wednesday morning. The Top 8 will then go through to the quarter-finals, semis and finals, finishing by 4:00pm the same day at headquarters club Carlton Cornwall.
General Manager of the Auckland Centre, Phil Vyver, has been thrilled with the interest in the tournament. “173 students have entered – 42 in the boy’s singles, 26 in the girls’ singles, and 35 triples teams. And while there’s a lot of Auckland schools participating, there’s also students coming from schools as far away as Invercargill, Christchurch, Wellington, Gisborne and Napier.”
Vyver believes that the secret to the interest in the revived tournament is simple. “The students are representing their schools in this tournament,” says Vyver. “The old tournament used to combine the students into 6 artificial geographical regions which no one had any affinity with – neither the students or us at bowls. Now they’re playing for school pride. They’ll be in their school colours. And they’ll have the backing of their school and their mates wanting them to bring back another trophy for the cabinet.”
Overall, 37 schools will be represented at the tournament – that’s about 10% of the secondary schools in New Zealand. “It’s a great start, and In 2020 we only expect that number to get much better as word gets around about the new competition.”
Vyver and his team are planning on running the tournament for the next two or three years. “Auckland’s an easy place to get into from around the country,” explains Vyver, “so once the tournament grows and gets a reputation as a ‘must-attend’, it will be easier to then hold it elsewhere in the country.”
One of the teams competing will be from Cashmere High School – the school that lost three current and former students, as well as two family members of students, in the recent mosque massacre. Another student was last week still in hospital as a result of their injuries.
Prime Minister Jacinda Adern visited the school last week, and addressed the students. “If you want to do something to make a difference … let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism,” she said.