Victoria hosts National Champion of Champions
It’s AFL Grand Final week, and there’s a similar sort of expectancy around Keilor Bowls Club as they get ready for theirs.
For Keilor, hosting the 2016 National Champion of Champions tournament from October 5 to 7 and some of the biggest names in world bowls – is their shot at the big league.
“This is the most significant event the club’s been involved in its 54 years,” executive secretary Bob Duddington told www.bowlsvic.org.au
“Its profile has been of a good little club nestled down in the village of Keilor. From that perspective it’s a great fillip for the club.”
Sleepy Hollow image it may have. But crane your neck over the fence or take the drive off the Old Calder Highway to the club hidden behind, and you’ll find anything but.
Facilities are first-class. A spacious clubhouse houses 230 members, six Saturday Pennant teams and three Midweek sides – who are starting their 2016-17 season on pristine greens as we visit.
In a crowded northern Melbourne bowls market, Keilor BC decided to set out their stall when they started chasing this national event.
Hosting a successful inaugural Northern Gateway Club Challenge within their region – and a well-attended luncheon for all club presidents and chairmen – gave Keilor BC the confidence to further promote themselves.
“We got a lot of unsolicited email from presidents and chairmen from other clubs congratulating us on that, so that gave us the confidence to apply for the National Champion of Champions,” Keilor BC chairman Peter Livy says.
So they pitched – professionally and successfully – and won, earning high praise from Bowls Australia events and competition manager Mark Casey along the way.
What’s happened since is an eight-month project in which no stone has been left unturned to put on a great show.
A grant generously provided by Sport and Recreation Victoria has been a big help. Local business is reporting the lead-up has provided a positive boost for traders.
More than 50 members have taken on specific roles in the planning of the tournament. That, say Peter and Bob, has created buy-in and ownership from a membership proud of their club and looking forward to showing it off to many who wouldn’t normally see it.
“It’s had a very positive impact on the club and membership,” Bob says.
The week before the tournament starts, the greens are running 13 seconds even despite heavy rain the night before.
That augurs well for the three-day tournament, featuring men’s and women’s competitions in which each State and Territory Champion of Champion singles winner plays the other in a round robin format.
The winners book themselves spots in the World Champion of Champions as Australia’s representatives.
Australia’s No.1 ranked men’s bowler Ryan Bester and 2015 Australian Open champion Aaron Teys headline the men’s field, with Victoria’s male representative the ultra-consistent Paul Twyerould (Rosebud BC/Peninsula Casey).
Twyerould won the Victorian Champion of Champions title at State Champions Week in Bendigo in April, beating Russell Green jr in an absorbing final to earn his place at Keilor.
Victoria’s representative in the women’s competition is Australian representative Carla Krizanic (Sunbury BC/Northern Gateway) – no stranger to the Keilor club as she started her decorated bowls career there as a teenager.
The synergies don’t end there. Bowls Australia’s Mark Casey will run the tournament at the club at which he first played top-level Pennant – a launch pad to his own decorated career which has since netted a world championship and Commonwealth Games gold.
For Keilor, their aim for the 2016 National Champion of Champions is a simple one.
“We want the 16 players and every spectator to have been here to walk away and say: ‘That was a great event’,” Bob says.
Entry is free on all three days of play, and there is plenty of parking available in the area near the club.
Bowls Australia National Champion of Champions information