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Kimberley Town Bowling Club rolling through history

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Kimberley Town Bowling Club has a rich history going all the way back to 1892.

Pictures: Danie van der Lith

WHEN we think of the sport of bowls, we get this mental picture of a bunch of old men and women, leisurely rolling a ball down a green on Sunday afternoons to pass the time. But that classic image is far from reality. Today, the sport of lawn bowls is as healthy and competitive as any other sport out there.

There’s an old bowls poem that goes a long way to describe the charm and addictiveness of the game, even for someone who is not even actively rolling woods up and down the green. It goes:

Up and down, walking walking,

Often measuring, sometimes chalking;

Shifting mats – keeping score,

Thirty ends, maybe more;

Aching back – tired of limb,

Cheers for others, none for him,

Night draws on, darker, darker,

No one cares for he’s the marker!

If that’s the attraction for the marker, imagine the excitement and thrills that players experience.

When you are at home and wondering what to do over the weekend, get in your car and take a drive to Kimberley Town Bowling Club, situated at 1 Boshof Road.

Popping in at Kim Town, you will not only be visiting any old bowls club, you will be visiting the second oldest bowling club in the country; a club that is full of history, just like the rest of Kimberley.

As soon as you enter the club, you will see the rich history of the club in the memorabilia hanging on the walls, some dating back to 1892 when the club opened its doors on November 19.

As soon as you enter the club, you will see the rich history of the club in the memorabilia hanging on the walls, some dating back to 1892 when the club opened its doors on November 19.

Meanwhile, stepping outside to the playing area brings you to the immaculately maintained green where countless bowls battles have taken place.

One of the two greens at the club.

Maintaining a sports ground and a bowling green and keeping it at an impeccable standard can never be a one-man job – at least that is what I thought, looking around at the grounds.

However, I was stunned to learn that this is exactly what is being done at the club. Annanias Molehe has been the greens and grounds keeper for the past 18 years. The 53-year-old has been diligently coming in every day to keep the greens in pristine condition for competitions.

But Annanias is not just a greenskeeper; he is also a bowls player, and then not only a bowls player, Mr Molehe regularly takes part in most competitions and was crowned the 2021 Kimberley Town Bowls Club champion.

Annanias Molehe has been the greens and grounds keeper for the past 18 years, and is also a champion bowler.

Annanias is a real asset to the historic club. He is the heartbeat of the greens and without him things would definitely not be the way they are.

I was impressed when I learned that young men and women, teen boys and girls, are all taking part in the sport, and in most cases the younger ones are taking the lead in showing the older ones how it is done.

This is how the bowls were transported in “those” days

And the competition on the bowls front is keen in the city. This year, the Vermeulens Build It Bowls Challenge was held at Kimberley Town Bowling Club on Saturday, May 14. The tournament was declared a great success.

A bowls ball, dating back to 1898.

This annual event, sponsored by one of the city’s leading suppliers of building material and hardware, managed to draw 96 competitors this year from across the Northern Cape and Free State, ranging from novices up to national bowlers.

Although the idea of the tournament was to have fun, some very competitive matches took place throughout the day and in the end the team from Beaconsfield Park Bowling Club walked away with the generous first prize of R8,000.

The Vermeulens Build It Bowls Challenge was declared a great success after it was held at the Kimberley Town Bowling Club on Saturday May 14. This annual event has this year drawn 96 competitors, ranging from novices up to national bowlers, from the Northern Cape and Free State, Seen here in blue are the first place winners (from left): Adriaan Du Plessis (Kimberley Town Bowling Club President), Mari Pretorius (representative of the organising committee), Barry Minopetros, Keegan Minopetros, Scotty Andrews, and Clint Kneen (not pictured).

Second place went to the team from Bloemfontein under captain Ian van Rooyen, while the third place went to a combined team under captain Duppie du Plessis.

The Kimberley Town Bowls Club bar, where a cold beverage after a game is always welcome.

A very big thank you was expressed to Vermeulens Build It, who undertook to sponsor the tournament for the next five years, as well as the prize money and maintenance of the facilities as needed.

The bowls president, Adriaan du Plessis, extended an invitation to all, young and old, who would like to see what bowls is all about to come and visit the club and enjoy a day of fun.

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