Sport: Lawn bowls on the rise in Niue
More people in Niue are taking up lawn bowls after a new club was opened on the Island at the end of last year.
Lawn bowls is experiencing a surge of interest in Niue with just a few months to go until the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The President of the Niue Olympic Association, Desmond Hipa, was involved in setting up the Niue Lawn Bowls Club back in December and told Vinnie Wylie up to 50 locals are now taking to the greens on a regular basis.
DESMOND HIPA: A lot of interest and we are looking at competitive as well as recreation, and we're getting a lot of those are from the women and the young and also the elderly enjoying it and there is some exercise and recreation at the same time.
VINNIE WYLIE: Niue has of course entered lawn bowlers in the Commonwealth Games in the past but what has led to the recent sort of surge or need to form this club?
DH: It's still new but we've been represented mainly from the Niueans living in Auckland for the past ten years so now that we have our own greens and our guys are just [as] competitive here so we're hoping to build up the sport and be more competitive as well as trying to get some international team to just come over and have a few games with guys over here.
VW: And I think last time in Delhi the mix in terms of your lawn bowlers was I think you had about half and half in terms of those based on the island and also, as you mentioned there, based in New Zealand up in Auckland so to have the majority coming from the Island for Glasgow is a positive sign in terms of developing your athletes.
DH: Exactly, definitely Vinnie, [a] very positive start.
VW: Is that something that you guys have been thinking about or trying to do or has it just sort of happened?
DH: It sort of happened but we've always wanted to have lawn bowls here because we see it as a good sport. It's competitive as well as recreation - just getting more people out there and playing which is good.
VW: What sort of numbers have you got at the club now? Opening in December so a few months on what sort of turnout are you getting?
DH: We've got more than 30 financial members, we just had our AGM, but there's a lot recreational players, I'm told that, so Saturday's now we can usually see about 40/50 people turn up to have a bit of a game.
VW: In terms of like the Commonwealth Games - is that part of the attraction? You mentioned obviously social but is that part of the attraction for some of them - the chance to maybe represent their country?
DH: Definitely. They're passionate to represent Niue so a lot of interest build up. We're looking at attracting more younger players to come and take part. As we all know I think the perception is it is an older people's games but we look at internationals now [and] a lot of younger players are representing their countries so we're targeting the younger players as well.
VW: And what is the qualification requirements for Glasgow?
DH: We've gone through a lot of trials to pick up - some have had previous experience before playing overseas so that comes in to play as well.
VW: Is there a certain standard that they need to meet or a certain competition they need to qualify through or is there a minimum number you guys are able to enter?
DH: There's a minimum number we are entering with four women here and five men. We've had experienced players as a coach here and we set as high a standard as we can to make our players reach to qualify.
Desmond Hipa says Niue also plans to send athletes in clay target shooting, track and field and weightlifting to the Glasgow Games.
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