Never too old to Inspire
By Dee Ayre
In the June 2021 edition of the Queensland Bowler magazine RBM Development column (page 22), Micheal Sorrensen asked readers to check out ABC’s YouTube clip You’re Never too Old to Inspire.
From the positive feedback we have received about this video, it certainly inspired many people who read the Queensland Bowler magazine to encourage younger people to visit their club.
For those who have not had a chance to view this heart-warming story, it all started when Paradise Point’s Mick Thorne spotted seven-year-old Ben visiting the club with his family and kicking a football on the greens.
Recognising that reprimanding him could put an enthusiastic young boy off playing bowls one day, Mick asked Ben if he’d like to come along and learn bowls. This was to be the start of a wonderful relationship; Mick and his wife, Cheryl, became almost like a Nan and Pop to Ben. And as for Mick, Ben’s enthusiasm and natural ability started a fire burning in him to nurture more junior bowlers, as they are the future of the game.
It didn’t take Mick long to recognise that Ben was “absolutely brilliant”, and that he loved to roll up and learn more each week. By ag nine, Mick had enrolled Ben in the State Championships playing against 15-year-olds. Fast forward to Ben at age 10 now and he has just won the Novice Championship at Paradise Point – not a bad result from a chance meeting four years ago.
Mick feels strongly that everyone gains in a story such as this. There is still a perception that bowls is an old people’s game; however, in reality it is a game for all ages. Young children, more specifically eight-year-olds, take instructions well and the more they improve their skills, the more they love the game. Bowls is a sport where families can participate together in a healthy environment and build passion for the game.
It’s all about fun and passing on a love of the game; but taking the time to mentor a child is more, as it is giving back to the community and contributing towards the survival of the game itself.
Mick credits his club, Paradise Point Bowls Club, for their support with the junior mentorship program. As Mick explains, bowls is the only sport that doesn’t have a feeder club and there is very little junior competition.
Mick also speaks highly of the School Bowls Programs. However, what he feels is missing is the lack of follow on. This is where it is important to recognise interest and potential in young players and sign them up as junior members of the club. If further interaction with the school program continues from here, then the hard part is done.
At Paradise Point Bowls Club, there are members on the Junior Development Committee who hold blue cards and coaching certificates and there is an arrangement in place whereby the Men’s Committee pay for junior boys’ membership and the Women’s Committee pay for junior girls’ membership. Every effort is made to kit the juniors out ready for training at minimum cost to families and a support team of mentors is in place.
So, where to from here? When the You’re Never too Old to Inspire story hit Facebook, Mick was encouraged by the reactions from all over the world.
Unfortunately, since then, the momentum of juniors in bowls seems to have stalled again. Mick’s dream is to see more inter-club competitions for juniors starting up in the Gold Coast District area, as he finds it a sad reality that his club currently has 20 young bowlers with no one to play against.
If you would like to help make Mick’s dream a reality, all it takes is to follow the steps Micheal Sorrensen lists to gain juniors, where you need:
- A very dedicated person or persons who love to work with children.
- A person or persons who love the sport of bowls.
- A person or persons who have the time and qualifications to run weekly training sessions.
- Green space and bowls suitable to run sessions for juniors.
- Cooperation between club and coordinator of the program and a Duty of Care document for juniors (this is to protect both children and the club).
If you have club members who meet the above criteria and share the same passion and drive as Mick from Paradise Point, work with them to start a program and ‘get the bowls rolling’, one small step at a time. Don’t forget the support of your local RBM is only a phone call away.