Kayden Te Manu bowls over his clubmates with title win

06 Apr 2021

A chance event gave 10-year-old Kayden Te Manu the opportunity to roll his first bowl down the green at the Mercury Bay Bowling Club. Just over two months later, he became the club’s First Year Players Men’s Singles Champion.

The Mercury Bay Area School student fell in love with the game when he accompanied his parents to a round of the Business House Competition held in January which they were playing in for fun.

“One of the people from my mum’s team was running late so they asked me if I wanted to fill in and have a turn,” Kayden says.

He was instantly hooked, asking to play regularly to the point his mum, Kim Newman, eventually gave him her spot on the team. “He was just completely into it and he seemed to have the skill for it,” Kim says. “Even all the regular members at the club were telling him he was a natural.”

After the competition, Kayden was determined to continue playing, going to the club at least once a week, sometimes more frequently, to practice and then signing up as a member.

“The club has been amazing,” says dad, Duane. “The encouragement and the support they have given him is fantastic.”

“Not only have they welcomed him but they have been providing him with coaching, all free of charge with the members volunteering their time,” Kim adds.

At 10, Kayden is the youngest club regular by quite a stretch, but says he is loving getting to know his new more senior clubmates. “They are really nice, they have been giving me lots of tips and tricks and it is helping me play better,” he says.

These new skills came in handy when Kayden faced a tense battle to take out the club’s First Year Players title for 2021 on Saturday, 27 March. “I was very excited when I won,” Kayden says. “It felt different playing in a competition and I was nervous, especially in the last round which got very close. At first I was up by heaps of points, then the other guy started coming back. I only needed one more point to win and eventually I got it and I was pretty relieved.”

Mercury Bay Bowling Club president, Judy Russell, says everyone at the club has been impressed with Kayden’s ability and his attitude. “It is encouraging to see such a young person, enthusiastic, not intimidated and keen to compete with adults, a lot being retirees,” she says.

Both Kayden and his fellow club members hope his passion and success may inspire more young people to get involved in the sport.

“It’s really good fun and I think a lot of kids would like it they gave it a go,” Kayden says.

Kim and Duane will continue to support Kayden to develop and improve. “I’m going to keep practising and hopefully enter more tournaments,” Kayden says.

Kim is also looking into the possibility of inter-school competitions where Kayden could meet other young players. “We’re very proud of him,” she says. “To see his dedication and how passionate he is about his bowls is awesome. Being involved in a club that offers such a positive and supportive environment is also really great.”

Pictured: Ten-year-old Kayden Te Manu, the Mercury Bay Bowling Club’s First Year Players Men’s Singles Champion, with Robyn Anderson, the club’s First Year Players Ladies’ Singles Champion.