Patron works to ensure sport survives
Zelda Clements has bowled a few in her time.
The Matamata Bowling club patron recently turned 88 and has no problem remembering when she started playing the sport.
Zelda joined the bowling club in 1965 around the age of 41.
Bowling wasn’t completely unfamiliar to her, she had previously tried her hand at indoor bowling in the evenings.
It was through gentle persuasion from her neighbour at the time, that she take up the outdoor version and discovered just how different the two sports were.
‘‘When I first played, the bowling green looked really long. ‘‘I thought hell, how will I get it to the end – indoor bowls is quite short.
‘‘Put it down on the green and let fly – it was so fast, I think it nearly went right through the other end, I didn’t realise you didn’t have to push it so hard,’’ she said.
It was only two years into playing outdoor bowls that she was invited to play in her first national fours tournament. ‘‘I nearly flipped,’’ she recalls. She travelled to Christchurch in 1967 for the National Dominion Fours with team mates Trixie Bates, Betty Fitzell and Margaret Price and the Matamata team won the competition.
Since then, she says she has played in thousands of tournaments across the country.
Zelda was given the honour of becoming a life member, which she thought was ‘‘quite exciting’’.
She later became the patron of the club. ‘‘I feel quite honoured.’’ Zelda says the bowling club, and the equipment, has significantly changed over time. She says the bowls now roll straighter and don’t curve as much.
‘‘It’s taken the skill away. I don’t like it.’’ Of the bowling club, Zelda says numbers are deteriorating. She says it’s hard for younger people to get involved due to work commitments, during the week and in the weekends.
She would like to see one big club form from Rewa, Hinuera and Matamata bowling clubs, but doesn’t think it will happen. Along with bowls Zelda enjoys the game of bridge, and getting out in her garden. She likes to get to the green a few times a week. She’s now preparing for the champion- ship fours with Ada Stevenson, Jan Wills and Coral Daisley, which they have won a few times.
Matamata Bowling Patron Zelda Clements.