BPL Cup a worthwhile experience
Expressions of interest are officially open for clubs to host and take part in the 2021 BPL Cup after the 2020 event recently came to a close.
The 2020 competition, despite being interrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was a resounding success, with South Australia’s own West Lakes claiming victory last month in the national final.
Over the past seven years, Bowls Australia (BA) has successfully staged 11 Bowls Premier League (BPL) events.
In 2014, BA also launched a new national participation initiative, Jack Attack, which is played at over 230 venues.
The BPL Cup marries the two products together to strengthen the correlation between the bowls that viewers see on television and the format of bowls offered at clubs.
The BPL Cup provides an opportunity for club-based teams to progress through various rounds to national finals, which are held in conjunction with BPL events.
Ian Miller, from the Henley side which also made it to the recent nationals, said he and his teammates decided to enter after hearing their club would be hosting a qualifying event.
“My brother and I tried to do qualifying round at Brighton the previous year, but it got washed out, so when the club announced it was going to host a round, we decided to try again,” he said.
“We won through our Henley qualifying and basically went undefeated in the knockout rounds at Torrensville, defeating two Salisbury teams on the way through.”
Ian said he and his teammates enjoyed the journey of qualifying for the national finals.
“We enjoyed the whole experience very much,” he said.
“James ‘Jimmy’ Wilson did an excellent job at Henley helping our tournament director out on the day and then at the finals at Torrensville.
“What our team have mostly mentioned was the fast pace of the games and the fact each game only takes an hour or so to play.
“They loved it for this reason and after experiencing Moama, we definitely keen to go around again to try and get to experience Pine Rivers now in Queensland, in November.”
Ian said the experience of the national BPL Cup finals at Moama was “unbelievable”.
“Andrew Howie did an amazing job in the logistics of getting everyone there, when up until the Wednesday with the greater Melbourne lockdown and all, we were on the edge whether we would be going or not,” he said.
“But we got the all clear Thursday morning, and then made plans with Andrew to drive to Moama now we could travel through regional Victoria to get to Moama.
“The best part of the trip was all the bonuses we got, like the supporter shirt and the one game in a corporate box for the Adelaide versus Dandenong BPL game on the Thursday night, with finger food and a supply of drinks that were topped up during our time.
“We were made very welcome by the BPL players also and many actually came out to watch the final between West lakes and Soldier’s Point also, which was good to see.”
Ian said he would “most definitely” encourage others to enter this year’s competition.
“We definitely will be trying again to see if we can win our way to Pine Rivers in November now, to tick another venue off the bucket list,” he said.
“I know from the interest of the Henley people following our exploits up there and a few seeing us on Foxtel and Kayo.
“I believe Henley will get a bigger entry this year, after hearing our stories on our return.
I think the BPL Cup is getting good recognition back in Adelaide, especially now West Lakes have won it, but there was a lot of support from the Henley members following our games while we were away.
“I personally think this is where the BPL CUP sells itself is the fact it is fast and furious, but people don’t realise the added bonuses that come with winning your state qualifying.
“There is flights, accommodation and in the case of getting to Moama car rental supplied as well and the Moama Waters accommodation was absolutely amazing.”
TJ Saunders, who was part of the West Lakes team, which was victorious in the national final, was full of praise for the BPL Cup concept.
“The BPL Cup is a good opportunity to play with friends and against quality players,” he said.
“It is a fast game and an unforgiving one if you drop a number, it would be interesting to see a few more comps with a change in format.
“It was a fantastic experience and one that I got to share with two of my teammates and friends.”
TJ spoke about his and his team’s experiences along the journey of the COVID interrupted BPL Cup campaign.
“We played at Wallaroo and I was a last-minute call up to replace an injured Tony Lucas,” he said.
“We had a couple of close games at Torrensville.
“Due to COVID, the trip to Moama was uncertain, and unfortunately the only effective way to get to the event was drive the seven hours.
“Bowls Australia ensured we all knew what the schedule required, and the games were high quality.
“The Moama Bowling Club is a great venue.
“The final game, which was on television, was exciting, and I am sure everyone will remember that last bowl.
“The support we got from the SA people at the venue and the messages of support were invaluable and we all appreciated the support.”
13 South Australian clubs have already signed up to host BPL Cup qualifying events this year, so why not get your club involved and host an event of your own.
To find out more about the BPL Cup concept, visit https://www.bowls.com.au/events-page/national-events/bpl-cup/ or call 8234 7544 and speak to Bowls Australia Participation and Programs Manager James Wilson.