Lighthouse club – Kerang BC
Like so many clubs, Kerang Bowling Club has to deal with the threat of declining membership.
So to address it, in the words of club spokesperson Gayle Teasdale: “We’re having a go”.
Forays into All Abilities days, juniors and barefoot bowls are bringing real results for this northern Victorian bowls club, and helping a life or two along the way.
When Bowls Victoria speaks to Kerang BC, it has just finished its annual Athol Stephen Classic Triples.
A deluge of overnight rain threatened the event, but didn’t call it off. Despite being underwater soon after the rain, the three tif dwarf greens coped with and drained the two inches of rain which fell, and the tournament ran seamlessly.
It sums up the can-do spirit about the indefatigable Teasdale and her club, which has plenty going on as they aim to maintain, and hopefully grow, their 100-strong membership.
Thursday nights are about attracting new bowlers, with a program called Get On The Greens bringing in locals new to the sport in a short-form, competitive environment.
A club bowler is teamed with three non-bowlers, and pitted against other similar teams over a nine-week competition.
“We’ve been getting 96 people every week, so it’s been working really well,” Teasdale says.
To back that up, the club runs Monday coaching sessions for those from the Thursday who want to learn more about the game and develop their skills. So those participating can be as social or serious as they want with the sport.
As well, the club is proud of its 11-year-old prodigy Cameron Keenan, who is part of the Victorian Under 18 Silver Squad as one of the state’s most promising young talents.
But where Kerang BC is winning much praise, particularly from those in the Mallee region’s sporting circles, is for their work with Access for All Abilities programs.
Club member Lorraine Adams, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, has taken to bowls with gusto after a recent operation to relieve symptoms of her tremors.
She now plays and practises every day, with much encouragement from Teasdale and the rest of the club.
Kerang BC works closely with the local regional sporting body – the Mallee Sports Assembly – and Sports and Recreation Victoria on a AAA program praised as one of Victoria’s best of this type.
So committed is the club to the program that Teasdale helped run one of the AAA days while simultaneously competing in a first round club championship singles match on the next green!
“I lost – not really a surprise!” she jokes.
For Teasdale, a retired teacher, it’s work which stems from her beginnings in the sport. She got involved in bowls 30 years ago after her brother lost his leg in a motorcycle accident – the sport providing an outlet for them to do something together.
What no one expected was that there have been positive spin-offs for the club competitively as a result of the AAA program.
AAA players have been successfully integrated into Kerang BC’s Pennant sides which have proven remarkably competitive during the 2015-16 season.
There are very few better examples of inclusion than this.