Niall on the way to indoor bowling champions

Somerville Intermediate School student Niall Vincer who is training for the New Zealand Championship is thankful to Graham for introducing him to indoor bowls. Photo supplied.

It’s not a game one normally associates with the young.

So then what are students of an intermediate school doing playing indoor bowls and even excelling at it?

Principal of Somerville Intermediate School David Ellery says that a retired couple Graham and Nolene Wilson have been visiting the school every week without fail and training the kids to play indoor bowls.

“It’s a sport that you might not associate with children of this age, however they have taken to it like ducks to water,” he smiles.

“It’s opened up a different kind of sport to those who perhaps aren’t into the outdoor team games.

Mr Ellery says that Graham and Nolene have been doing this for four years now and have developed a wonderful rapport with the youngsters.

“It is truly a success story and Graham and Nolene have gone about it in such a quiet and humble manner.

“Their voluntary efforts have resulted in both Auckland and National championship wins for the kids. They are real treasures to the community.”

Somerville Intermediate student Niall Vincer who has been playing indoor bowls for a year now says that 18 of them have been playing the game competitively.

“I think it’s a good sport because it has a degree of luck but also uses strategy, patience and skill.”

The 13-year-old who visits the Howick Club three to four times a week for extra one-on-one coaching sessions says that it also involves a lot of communication and teamwork.

He is now doing some serious training for the New Zealand championship coming up next week in Wellington.

Niall who also plays rugby, cricket and golf says that it took a little while for it to sink in that he had won the Auckland Junior Championship in July.

“I went in there thinking I’ll do my best and use it as a practice for the biggest annual sporting event for 11-13 year olds at the Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools (AIMS Games) in Tauranga.

“It was cool it paid off. I didn’t know the prize we were playing for was to represent Auckland at NZ champs later this month,” he says with pride.

Other school students including Samuel Warren, Dan Nichols and Josh Kingdon have won medals at Auckland Intermediate Pairs Bowls Champs and at the Manukau Junior Singles.

Graham says that it is a tactical game at a competitive level and it doesn’t preclude anyone on the basis of gender or gait.

“It needs more thinking than muscles, and we like to keep the medals coming,” says the 77-year-old who introduced it to students in schools to keep the love for indoor bowls alive.

Interestingly, Graham devoting time and energy to train students has initiated other partnerships between the school and community.

Seven ladies from the Bruce McLaren Retirement home have started helping some of the students of Somerville intermediate with their reading skills, which is turning out to be another mutually rewarding relationship.