By GREG WHITE
A BROKEN hip suffered in a game of ice hockey at the age of nine has proved a lucky break for northern beaches lawn bowler, Matthew Miles.
Now 15, the Woolgoolga High found contact sport no longer an option and briefly turned his attention to golf.
"Maybe I wasn't as serious about golf as I could have been," Matthew admitted.
"My handicap came down to 12 but I couldn't get passionate about it."
At the urging of Allan, his lawn bowling grandfather, Matt tried the game on the rink and found himself a natural.
"That was six years ago," he said.
"The longer I play the more I love it."
During 2005, Miles has really hit his stride with an avalanche of honours and titles at school, club and district level.
Induction into the North Coast Academy of Sport bowls program has seen him visiting Park Beach Bowling Club for intensive coaching.
But it's his inclusion in the Royal New South Wales Junior Bowling Academy program that's been a real head turner as only the supremely talented are invited to Narrabeen.
"The individual attention we get at state level is unbelievable," he revealed.
"We're encouraged to develop our own style and there's no interference unless your technique is drastically wrong."
Matt says the Narrabeen coaches offer plenty of advice but it's up to the individual if they wish to accept it or not.
"The tuition at that level is much more advanced than what we receive locally.
"Tactical play gets a lot of focus.
"We are shown the importance of driving and draw shots and encouraged to think hard about setting up strategy in a game."
The memories of that broken hip and the dabble in golf are now distant memories for Matt Miles.
"Thanks to my grandfather I just love this game," he said.
"As far as I can go, so much the better."