Ambitious plans for Whittlesea BC
The smile comes across Nick McIntyre’s face every time he mentions the word “coaching”.
For the long-time Victorian State bowler, it’s clear this is a passion that he wants to develop as part of ambitious plans for his club Whittlesea – where he works, coaches, and is helping drive a $4.5 million redevelopment.
Whittlesea is as far north as Melbourne gets before it becomes regional Victoria. It’s about 40km north of the CBD, but with a country town-like feel.
Ambition dots every corner of Whittlesea Bowls Club, a typical bowls club from the outside but with plenty going on within its ever-busier four walls. The redevelopment is a big project, with huge rewards when completed.
Big rewards are also on offer with another ambitious plan that McIntyre has, but this investment is more heart and soul.
The Whittlesea Wizards junior lawn bowls academy is a key plank in the club’s push to become even more of a community hub than it is.
Whittlesea has launched a program which offers four free coaching days to juniors and enticements including a showbag, training days, and a junior tournament to bring young people into the sport for the first time and develop a lifelong love of bowls.
Running in conjunction with the junior academy is a scholarship program, to help bring talented juniors already involved in the sport to the club.
That’s a holistic program to help those hoping to make a name in the sport with all aspects of their career, including school – a portion of the scholarship designed to help with school fees, school uniforms and book costs.
And McIntyre knows just what it takes to develop younger players.
As well as a long and decorated State and Region representative career, McIntyre has quietly worked in the background developing some of the best young talent in the State as a coach.
While at previous club Bundoora RSL, McIntyre was involved in the early coaching of rising star Josh Corless among several others.
So high has Corless’ star risen that he played alongside McIntyre in the senior team which this year won Victoria’s first men’s Australian Sides Championship in 14 years.
Corless is just 17.
For McIntyre, the idea of developing his club, plus more great junior talent, is a challenge he’s excited about.
“When I looked at the club, I’m one of the youngest members – and I’m 35, so the realisation was that we needed to bring more younger members into the club,” McIntyre told www.bowlsvic.org.au
“We’re in a massive growth corridor in Melbourne’s north, and if you get kids in, we think they’ll be loyal to the club. You see that with the football and netball teams here – the kids don’t go and play somewhere else, they play in Whittlesea.
“I’d love for it to be a fully established academy, get academy uniforms, sponsor them to play in junior tournaments.
“The sport’s been good to me, and having seen how Josh has blossomed, I’d love to get another Josh Corless or two out there.”
Whittlesea BC has already had groups of schoolchildren come to the club to play, with a great response from the local community – something they want to build on with their junior academy.
With 180 bowling members and a Division 1 Metro Pennant side, Whittlesea has a strong bowls base to work with, and off-green the club has also been making shrewd business decisions.
Phase one of the $4.5 million club redevelopment is a new commercial kitchen. Behind screens work is going on, but a pop-up kitchen to create meals throughout the days means it’s business as usual.
Phase two will be an administration area, plus a 150-seat function room, with an extended members’ area the third phase.
There could be more to come. Whittlesea boasts two excellent grass greens bordering the residential area it neighbours.
But the club also now owns a couple of the surrounding houses, giving it room for further expansion.
Plus in the short-term, it’s a handy income stream in a popular part of Melbourne.
New estates are springing up all around Whittlesea between Plenty Road and the Hume Freeway.
Doreen, Mernda, Laurimar and the like are growing – quickly – and Whittlesea BC has reached out locally to those communities’ local football and netball clubs to promote crossover.
Whittlesea Bowls Club celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. Clearly, they’re eyeing another 60 and planning accordingly.
You can find out more about Whittlesea Bowls Club’s junior academy, its scholarship program, and dates for the coaching days here.
If your club is interested in getting involved with juniors or schools programs, contact Bowls Victoria’s Participation Co-Ordinator Sean O’Kane for further details at email@example.com or by ringing (03) 9861 7100