Junior bowlers from around the state are descending on the Bundaberg Region to take to the greens for the Bowls Queensland Junior State Championships.
Almost 90 juniors will compete in the Queensland Junior State Championships in singles, pairs, triples and fours categories, showcasing their talent and skills as they vie for the top trophy in six days of competition.
Hosted at Burnett Bowls Club, district junior development officer Des Kemp said the elite event was a highlight on the annual calendar and it was wonderful to hold it in Bundaberg.
Des said this year a new under-12 competition had been introduced for the first time and younger players and their families were excited.
“After seeing a lot of younger players come through last year in Toowoomba, I suggested to Queensland Bowls to put an under-12 singles on and they did, which is just fantastic,” he said.
“Previously the little guys had to come up against the nearly 15-year-olds, so to me it seemed we didn’t cater for them as much as we could have.
“Now they will go up against their peers instead of the older, more experienced players.
“It’s been well received by everyone, and I think it will continue for future years to come now.
“In bowls you make lifelong friends, and those friendships will carry on forever.”
Ten local junior players will give the competition their best shot and Des said they had a hometown advantage.
“We are looking forward to the week and showcasing what Bundaberg has to offer,” Des said.
“Families are travelling with the juniors, and I’m sure they will all have a fantastic time here in Bundaberg.
“It’s also great for our local players who get to rest in their own beds, so they have that rested advantage.”
Bowls a family affair for Alex
Competing in the new Under-12 singles local junior Alex O’Brien, 11, started playing bowls after following in his great-grandfathers footsteps.
“This is the first time I’ve played in the competition, and I am really looking forward to it,” Alex said.
“Bowls is about the mindset – you have to have a good mindset in order to play well.
“I know I’ll get to meet new people and then go on to play them again next year and the year after.”
Alex’s mum Karen O’Brien said it made her proud to see her son follow his great-grandfather’s passion for the sport.
“Bowling is actually a family affair for us,” Karen said.
“Alex’s great-grandfather Robert Barritt won a lot of competitions here back in the ’70s and ’80s. He actually had his own spot at the bar and ‘Bob’ was well known around the place.
“It’s a big thing for Alex, he has a passion for bowls, and he wanted to play when he was eight, but back then they wouldn’t allow them until they were older.
“We are the only junior club in town, and bowls is known as ‘such an old person’s game’, but it’s opened up so much for Alex.
“To get the kids involved teaches them how to not only work on their own strengths but also how to work as a team.
“So, these changes are really wonderful, and Alex is really excited to compete against his peers. It will be good fun and great experience.”
Bundaberg Regional Council provided $5000 in funding to support the 2023 Junior State Championships.
Support local junior bowlers
The six days of the Bowls Queensland Junior State Championships starts on Sunday, with the event live streamed through Bowls Queensland.
Bowls Queensland is encouraging people to go along and watch the 2023 Junior State Championships at Burnett Bowls Club, Across the Waves Bowls Club and Bundaberg Bowls Club, to find out the schedule click here.