Australian Defence Force bowlers hit up #AusOpenGC
Australian Defence Force bowlers are using this year’s Australian Open as a stepping stone for greater recognition within the Australian Defence Force Council and to gain experience in a world class event. The number of Australian Defence Force servicemen and women taking up bowls is on the rise across the country, and here at the Australian Open a large contingent of ADF bowlers who are currently not deployed serving our country are on the Gold Coast making a big statement at the world’s largest festival of bowls.
Having success at this year’s Australian Open means more to the ADF bowlers than just having their names up in lights; this world class event will go a long way towards gaining recognition for the sport within the Australian Defence Force Council.
Lawn Bowls is one of 27 sports associated within the ADF but in its tiered system, it currently ranks below sports with higher participation numbers and therefore doesn’t receive as much funding; however with ground breaking results, attention from local media outlets and help from the sport’s finest, the 2015 Australian Open is putting AFD bowls on the map.
National Coach Steve Glasson OAM is the Bowls Patron of the ADF and has been an incredible asset to the organisation, helping lift the profile of the sport through opportunities like the Australian Open and opening doors for the ADF bowlers to enter nationally renowned events to gain the experience and recognition they need.
Here on the Gold Coast, 16 ADF bowlers are competing and while only at the halfway point, already six men and three ladies are through to the knockout stages in the coveted singles and a number of their teams have progressed to the knockout stages in the pairs and fours in the sport’s most lucrative open event.
No victory was greater than that of Anita Jenkins who defeated Australia’s most capped international bowler, queen of the green Karen Murphy in a thrilling ladies sectional encounter.
After overcoming pre-match nerves about the match up that loomed against the lady widely regarded as one of the world’s best, Jenkins now walks away with the self-belief that she can match it with anyone on the greens.
There is no doubt the skill level of the ADF bowlers is improving through all the opportunities of late to compete in world class events and there is no wonder they are progressing deep into the draw at this year’s Australian Open.
Lucas Baker is moving up the bowling ranks in the Northern Territory having been identified by NT/SA NTC Coach Faye Luke as a future Australian representative.
Sargent Gerard Harkins, the ADF bowls co-ordinator, has nothing but praise for the Australian Open and the efforts of all the ADF bowlers.
“It’s just such a wonderful experience to play in an event at this high level and we certainly all have something to aspire to after witnessing and playing against some of Australia’s best,” Sargent Harkins said.
“We have been able to test ourselves against people we wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to play against.”
Harkins joshed that the ADF need to recruit Australian Jackaroos to make them eligible for the ADF team, but more importantly gaining exposure for bowls will hopefully attract other ADF personnel to take up the sport and join a bowling club, which will in- turn help the sport of bowls increase its participation.