Simon Poppleton : Developing our wonderful game

February 16, 2023

The end of 2022 saw Simon Poppleton finish a stint as the Bowls Development Manager at North Shore’s Takapuna Bowling Club.

Although Simon works full-time with fellow-bowler Brett O’Riley at the Employer & Manufacturers’ Association, he still finds the time to be a roving development manager for the bowls community in Auckland.  And Takapuna were quick to nab his services for the last six months of last year to see what magic he could perform for their club.

Quite a lot as it turns out.

A number of experimental initiatives not only proved successful but showed the club that they could and should be run on an on-going basis.

“In the first instance, we wanted to see whether we could get any traction with the local schools,” says Simon.  “So in mid-November, we ran a bowls competition for Year 9 and 10 kids (form 3 and 4).”

“We had 11 teams in all … from Rangitoto College, Auckland Grammar and Glenfield College.  The kids loved it.  Particularly as Colin Williams and Sally Mackenzie from Bowls New Zealand came to the party with free caps and drink bottles, as well as $30 Rebel Sports vouchers for first, $20 vouchers for second, and gear bags for third.”

‘We’re expecting the tournament to be even bigger next year.”

But Simon, a one-time Indoor Bowls national titleholder, was eager to show that he could also inspire rangatahi with the indoor game, as well as the outdoor game.

“With indoor bowls, we could take the game to them,” explains Simon.  “So for a week we had sessions with the boys at Westake Boys’ High School just down the road from here.”

“It was another win.  I think the kids really appreciated it because they could all participate … it wasn’t just about being the biggest kid, or the strongest kid, or the most-coordinated kid.  They could all have a go and do well.”

But the big success story was a ‘have a go’ day which Simon put together.

“We invited a few celebs along … the likes of Ian Jones, Grant Nisbett and Adine Wilson,” says Simon “And got 12 teams of 2-bowl triples participating.  90% of them had never played bowls before.”

“But the real win for the club was getting six new members out of the day.  It was great.”

No doubt a lot of this success is due to the ‘persuasive’ manner of Simon … he’s not short of a word or two.

But that also disguises a long history in the sport.

“I started playing outdoor bowls in 1982 when I was 19,” says Simon. “At first, I was mainly involved in indoor, but the outdoor game gradually won me over.”

“I’ve belonged to a lot of clubs as I moved around the country with my work … starting at Whakatiki in the Hutt Valley (closed in 2012), then to Upper Hutt, Tauranga South, Frankton Junction, Glen Eden and Mangere.”

“Even after such a long time in the game, I still have plenty of goals in outdoor bowls which I’m working on.  Skipping the North Harbour Intercentre Fours last year was a start!”

That sounds pretty good to us.

Simon has now taken on a role as the Manager of New Lynn bowls, and we look forward to seeing how he develops our wonderful game even further.