They may be competitors on a Saturday, but off the field Goulburn Valley Bowls Division players take pride in their association
So much so, Stanhope Bowls Club hosted a fundraiser to help East Shepparton playing-coach Josh Thornton on his way to compete at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
Almost 100 adults and children from across the region came together on Wednesday for the event in Stanhope.
Among the organisers was Stanhope bowler Tim Hancock who said the idea came from wanting to support Thornton to play at the top level.
‘‘It was something we thought about over a beer or two and thought let’s run this by Josh and he was all for it and very appreciative of it,’’ he said.
‘‘We then went to the GV bowls association and (president) James McLeod and they were super supportive and excited.’’
With 25 prizes donated for the raffle, Thornton spent time out on the greens with some of the younger bowlers before detailing his journey to Australian representation.
‘‘It was a chance to get out on the green and bowl with a Com Games person ... he explained where he came from in relation to taking up bowls and the challenges he faces with a disability,’’ Hancock said.
‘‘He then followed through with what it’s taken him in the last four years with losing weight and getting fit and playing in major tournaments and winning the Aus Open pairs with Barrie Lester.’’
Hancock was thrilled Hay Bowling Club manager Dave Townsend came to support Thornton.
While rivals on the green, Hancock said it was important to acknowledge the rarity of what Thornton has achieved.
‘‘It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you don’t generally see this calibre of a sportsman in our game,’’ he said.
‘‘Everybody got a buzz (on Wednesday night) whether they were beginner bowlers or had played their whole life.
‘‘We wished him all the best and hope he goes on and represents himself and the GV well.’’