Ben?s bias is for bowls and a coke
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WHEN asked about lawn bowls, most people will respond that it's a sport for older people but Ben Watson is very quickly turning that train of thought on its ear.
At the tender age of 12, Watson has recently become the youngest bowler ever to be sponsored by well-known lawn bowls manufacturer Henselite.
Recent performances that Watson has displayed on the greens show that the faith the company has put in Watson isn't misplaced.
After winning the inaugural West Coffs juniors tournament late last year, Watson has started mixing it the older players as a part of the club's pennant's team where he plays as lead for the 7's and recently paired up with club veteran Stan Russ in the major open pairs competition, where Watson is making a large name for himself.
Part of the sponsorship package that Watson has received is clothing as well as a brand new set of bowls which the Orara High student had no hesitation in asking they be coloured sky blue in honour of his beloved Cronulla Sharks.
Watson has only been playing the game for nine months and it wasn't until a concerted effort by West Coffs, led by coach Trevor Baker to recruit junior players to the club that gave the star junior the chance to have a roll.
"Bowls was a game that I always wanted to play but there was nowhere for kids to play until Trev put an ad in the paper," he said.
"The game's a bit different but I don't get nervous when playing against the grown-ups."
In fact Watson joked that the only difference between him and the pennants players he finds himself against is that he has a glass of coke at each end instead of a beer.
As Watson's coach, Baker couldn't be more proud of the progress made by his young charge and is predicting a big future in the sport for Watson if he continues to put in the hard work at practice that he has shown a passion for.
"He's a pretty good player and in the pairs, Stan has got him to play some pretty good positional bowls," he said.
"They won their first match in the pairs 23-3 and I think they're going to be one of the teams to beat."
If it's only taken Watson 12 months to reach this level, maybe some of the players in Australia's Commonwealth Games team should get ready to look over their shoulders at selection time in the future.
He may love the Sharks but he's proving a bigger shark himself on the green.