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Plug Your Club — Narre Warren Bowls Club.

For the millennials out there who were lucky enough to be born in the 1980’s, most of you would be well aware of the 1985 movie blockbuster that starred Tina Turner, titled ‘Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome’. Whilst a long way from Hollywood, two years later the Narre Warren Bowls Club was established (1987), setting the scene for what would eventually become the ‘Pantherdome’. Whilst some may suggest I’m drawing a long bow here, the home of the Panthers is setting the pace for community bowls clubs, creating it’s very own ‘Thunderdome’, so to speak. Nestled in the busy south-eastern suburb of Narre Warren just across the road from Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, the Panthers have created their very own community haven where locals can enjoy a relaxed game, gather for a social occasion or even participate in tournament play, all whilst having access to a facility that is the envy of clubs for miles.


An aerial shot of the incredible facilities at Narre Warren Bowls Club. (Greenline)

With a unique set up that offers two bowling greens covered with a double roof, bowlers can bowl in any weather conditions, whether that be in the heat of an Aussie summer, or through the harsh rains of a dreary Melbourne winter. The facilities provide not only protection from the elements, but whilst it can be considered an indoor venue, its roomy feel gives members and visitors the freedom to enjoy a spacious structure that provides an enjoyable experience for all involved. But that’s not all. According to Bowls Australia, the Panthers boast one of the fastest growing community lawn bowls memberships in the country! It’s no surprise, with their state-of-the-art covered greens, along with a full clubhouse upgrade that is nearing completion, there’s so much to love about the club. But if we look beyond the facilities, what really makes the club such a great place to be?


We caught up with club secretary Eric Sydenham to ask him all the important questions about why the Narre Warren Bowls Club is so important to the local community. ‘It’s all about the people involved. They are the ones who make the club such a great place to be’, said Eric. ‘Everyone is provided the opportunity to participate at a level appropriate to their ability. We provide opportunities for all ages and genders, but we’re conscious of the varying reasons people turn up here. Some are simply here for social outings, some wish to be more competitive and advance themselves in the sport. Either way, we want to support everyone and meet the needs of each and every person who comes to our club’.


It was clear from that outset that Eric is a passionate member of the club. Named volunteer of the year in 2022 by Bowls Australia, from a list of more than 1,800 bowls clubs across the country, Eric is proud when talking about the role the club plays in the community. ‘We raised $1.5m through grants and fundraising in order to fund our amazing covered greens project, which was handled by the City of Casey. They have since described it as ‘the jewel in the crown of Casey sporting facilities’. But most importantly, we have achieved all of this without the assistance of gaming revenue, which is a really important part of the way we do things as a local community club’.


Eric spoke glowingly about the support from sponsors, particularly those from around the local community. ‘We have several major sponsors who have been with us for the last few years, and some additional mega sponsors who are coming on board soon to provide further support. We always do our best to provide a lot of exposure to our sponsors, and are always conscious of not taking on any sponsorships whose activities might conflict with our existing sponsors. We are proud to always act with integrity and respect for those who have made a commitment to us’.


Inside the playing arena. (Greenline)


Whilst Eric plays his role, like any community club, the list of volunteers is long and they are all critical to the day-to-day workings down at the Pantherdome. ‘Len O’Brien is a life member and is also legally blind. He has won volunteer of the year awards in Victoria and has also competed as a vision impaired bowler in state and national competitions, winning several gold medals. He is one of the hardest workers at the club and walks more than 2 km’s each way from his home each day to religiously empty the bins and put them out for collection. He’s always first to put his hand up to help out and gets to the club early on bowls days to set up in preparation for our bowlers to arrive. The club is so lucky to have Len as one of our key volunteers, and we value him and his contribution greatly’.


When asked what new members might expect if they were to turn up at the Narre warren Bowls Club, to put it simply, Eric suggested a friendly welcome and a warm social atmosphere. A social hub, providing the ultimate in facilities, activity, connection and community engagement. Oh, and for those looking for a bit of competition, you’re more than welcome too! Though it’s a setting built on the social side of the sport, last season saw the Panthers with their largest participation numbers yet, and their best on field results – with 10 of 11 teams playing finals bowls.


Simply put, the Pantherdome is the place to be if you want to get involved in community bowling. Whether it’s for fun on a warm summer’s day, or if you’re looking for a bit of competition on the green, the Narre Warren Bowls Club is prepared to offer you a great experience. With a new clubhouse soon to be complete, and other unique facilities already on offer that have created a formula for success, the Panthers would love to see you on the green this summer!


Upcoming Event: “A leg up for Upwey Tecoma Bowls Club”


The Narre Warren Bowls Club are proud to be hosting a special fundraising event on Sunday 1st October to support Upwey Tecoma Bowls Club. Back in April 2023, Upwey Tecoma were victim to a scam whereby payment to cover replaced greens (lost due to flooding) was misdirected and in turn they have been set back $130,000. In a bid to help a fellow bowls club out during this difficult time, Narre Warren are hosting a bowls day and inviting you to take part to help raise much needed funds.


To find out more about the event, or RSVP, please contact Craig Moore (President) – 0433 955 674.

Read more about the Upwey Tecoma incident via this article published on the Bowls Australia website: Flood-affected bowls club scammed out of more than $100k, suggest vigilance for other clubs - Bowls Australia


For more details on the club, or to express your interest in joining the Panthers, contact Secretary Eric Sydenham via email - narrebowlsclub@bigpond.com.


If your club is interested in being profiled as part of our ‘Plug your Club’ initiative, get in touch! Email us at - extratimepublication@gmail.com

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