Could these Juniors be the future of Bowls?
Meet 7-year-olds Steven & Matthew
The Junior State Championships held in January this year showcased some of Queensland’s existing and emerging bowls talent. The youngest bowlers participating in the championships were 7-year-olds Steven Bird-Monk and Matthew Russell. The Queensland Bowler magazine caught up with Steven and Matthew to find out more about their bowls journey so far.
STEVEN BIRD-MONK – BURLEIGH HEADS BOWLS CLUB
Steven (Stevie) started the sport after watching his dad, Chris Monk, play bowls and wanted to join in and play too. He loves bowls and says, “it’s fun and I get to play with my dad”.
Although Stevie also plays cricket and soccer, he spends a lot of time on the green. There’s nothing he doesn’t like about bowls and he practises at least three times a week. “I practise even more in the holidays,” he said.
Dad Chris coaches Stevie, and “Barrie Lester also helps me”.
Jackaroo and bowls co-ordinator at Burleigh Heads Bowls Club, Barrie Lester, said that Steven is a scholarship holder at Burleigh Bowls Club and is a Junior Dragon.
“He is part of our junior academy as we build to have more scholarship holders and juniors moving forward,” Barrie said.
“His scholarship supports him with his equipment, costs associated with his program along with mentoring and coaching from me,” he said.“
We support and encourage Steven in the sport of lawn bowls and in his school and future endeavours in life.
“Steven is well supported by all members and is a breath of fresh air to have around our club.
Both Steven’s parents are wonderful members and do an outstanding job to guide Steven in the right direction and see that he has plenty of enjoyment whilst playing the game.”
Stevie enjoyed his experience at the Junior State Championships and said, “it was awesome, it made me really happy!”
We asked Stevie if he had any bowls stories to share with us and he replied that his friends didn’t believe him at first when he told them that he played lawn bowls. However, the highlight so far has been when Jackaroo Aaron Teys gave Stevie one of his BPL bowls and signed it.
“I was too shy to go up to him even though dad is friends with him, so he got one of his bowls out of his bag signed it and gave it to me,” Stevie said.
“I was so happy and excited! Then Aaron gave me a big hug. “Best night ever!”Stevie proudly displays Aaron’s bowl in a case next to his trophies.
Stevie’s dad, Chris, would like to do a shout out to Burleigh Heads Bowls Club for always supporting Stevie from day one. Also, Chris would like to thank Barrie Lester who has been “a legend” with Stevie, both on and off the green.
“Barrie gave Stevie his first set of junior bowls for his sixth birthday, which helped him really get into the sport,” Chris said.
MATTHEW RUSSELL – CUNNAMULLA BOWLS CLUB
Matthew started playing bowls at kindy with Mrs Marks, but said that he really enjoyed playing bowls “because my Pop and big brother Jacob play bowls too”.
He likes playing bowls because he likes having fun, meeting new people and also “maybe you can win or maybe not”.
“Also, my friends think it’s pretty cool,” he said.
Matthew plays bowls regularly. “I play every Friday night at club social night and I play on weekends when there are events on”.
When Matthew isn’t on the green, he likes football, motorbike riding, fishing, pig chasing and playing his guitar.His Pop Monk and brother Jacob coach him.
“I love playing bowls with Jacob, he is really good at bowls. Sometimes he coaches me so that I can get better,”Matthew said.“
I really enjoyed it the State Championships and got to play against some really good players.“
I liked playing in triples and rinks with my big brother Jacob.”
During the Junior State Championships in January this year he got to meet “heaps of people and make new friends”.
However, the biggest highlight for Matthew so far has been being interviewed by Channel 7.
“When I was in Toowoomba I got interviewed and was on the news on TV!
Matthew’s parents have added that during the interview with Channel 7, the interviewer asked Matthew, “what do you enjoy about playing bowls?”.
Matthew’s response was “sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t”.
Towards the end of the interview, the interviewer said, “there is only one thing on these young bowlers’ minds” and Matthew replied, “all you gotta do is just come on down and have some fun”.
Matthew proved to be a hit on the live stream at the Junior State Championships. He adopted a casual stance when waiting his turn, with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face.
Commentator Brian Marshall said that he’s “got his hands in his pockets, his sunglasses on and his sun hat on”.
“He really does look the part, it’s priceless to see. It really is great to see these young kids out there enjoying themselves.”