Teen a wizard on the green

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A Roxburgh boy is making a name for himself on the bowling green.

Ethan Kitto (16) began playing in the social team at the Roxburgh bowling club when he was 12, then joined the club when he was 14.

A family connection to bowls was the impetus for him giving it a go.

“I mainly got into it because dad played and granddad played and my great granddad played,” Ethan said.

Cricket used to be his summer sport.

“But I didn’t really enjoy that as much as I thought I would, so I thought I would get into bowls.”

Once bitten with the bug, Ethan discovered he loved the game.

“It’s a sport that you’ve really got to rely on yourself, so I think that’s what I enjoy about it,” he said.

“You’ve got to be quite determined, and never give up.”

Older members were very helpful and generous, Ethan said.

“You play in a team, so you’ve really got to talk to your team-mates and sort it out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to play the ball.

“You play to the other teams, so if they’re doing this you kind of do the opposite.”

Ethan has met other younger bowlers such as 18-year-old Caleb Hope, who plays for Southland.

“It’s good to see other young kids getting about and playing, because obviously you need young kids to keep the sport going, so it’s good to see as many young people out there as we do,” he said.

Next on the calendar for Ethan is the Southern 6 Tournament in Timaru this weekend, where he will be part of the Central Otago development team.

The Central team will be competing against teams from Dunedin, Southland, South Otago, North Otago, and South Canterbury.

Central Otago bowls director of coaching Ric Hunt said Ethan had huge potential.

“Ethan’s just a young guy, he’s probably the youngest. He’s got it all in front of him,” he said.

Central Otago bowls centre manager Ruth Grant said Ethan was a third-generation Central Otago bowler.

“His grandfather, Bill, and father, Nigel, are both very accomplished bowlers who have won many Central Otago titles,” she said.

Bowls New Zealand chief executive officer Mark Cameron said he was delighted with the increasing number of younger people playing bowls.

“The recent nationals held in Dunedin provided further evidence of bowls’ increasing appeal to a younger generation.

“All four semifinalists in the men’s singles were 31 years of age or younger. The youngest being 17 years of age,” Cameron said.

“Bowls New Zealand continues to experience significant growth in the 15-35 years age group, with the average age of casual bowling club participants continuing to reduce year on year.”

Ethan said he would encourage other people to try bowls for themselves.

“I’d say to anyone just to give it a go, because it’s like a really good sport to play, and you learn a lot about yourself while playing bowls.”