Commonwealth Games – 3 Bowls North Harbour Players off to Birmingham

The Takapuna Bowling Club, for the first time in its history, will have two representatives at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England, in July and August.

 The first leg in this notable double came earlier in the year when Graham Skellern was named as one of the two para men’s bowlers and the second when Selina Goddard was named today in the Women’s team of five.

 And with their selection Bowls North Harbour can lay claim an unprecedented three players in a Games team. Tony Grantham was also confirmed in the Men’s team. He is still a Birkenhead club member even though he plays his representative bowls for the Auckland Centre.

 Selina will lead for the Queensland-based Cantabrian Katelyn Inch in the pairs and will play two in the four for Wellington’s Nicola Toomey, Canterbury’s Tayla Bruce and the great Val Smith, from Nelson who with her vast international experience will be the skip.

 Selina and Katelyn Inch already have a history together. They won the national pairs title at Christchurch in the 2019-20 season.

 Selina was already a Black Jack when she switched from the Auckland Centre to North Harbour nearly four years ago. But she has no doubt that at a critical stage in her career the move across the Harbour Bridge has provided her with the boost she then needed.

 Part of the move was residential for she had moved house to Belmont. But equally significant was meeting around this time Graham Dorreen, who by then was making a considerable impact as a coach.

 “Coming over to North Harbour has helped me immensely,” Selina says. “I can’t put into words how much Graham has helped me and I can’t thank him enough for the time and commitment he has made.

 “Meeting Graham, the fact I was living on the North Shore and the resources, opportunities and programme provided by North Harbour all made sense for me to move over.”

 The three or four seasons Selina has spent with Takapuna, and earlier with Belmont Park, and North Harbour have been hugely beneficial, both for herself and those who have played with her.

 In 2019-20 she won two national titles, the pairs with Inch and as a lead later that season in a composite four which won at Bay of Plenty. That added to the two national titles she had won earlier, in 2014 in a composite four skipped by Mandy Boyd and in the singles in 2017 in New Plymouth.

 In 2019-20 she also won two Harbour titles, with her Takapuna club-mates Wendy Jensen, Anne Dorreen and Trish Hardy in the Pairs and Fours. And in 2020-21 she won another two Harbour titles, the championship singles and the champion of championship singles. This season, even though she had made practicing in conditions similar to the slow greens she will encounter at Birmingham, she retained her championship singles title and helped Takapuna again win the Harbour sevens. 

 In the relatively short time she has been with Harbour she has already won her Centre gold star while being just one away from gaining one at national level.

 And as the singles specialist she has been the anchor of Takapuna and North Harbour sevens sides which in the past couple of seasons have enjoyed so much success, notably a close runner-up in the national final last year to a powerful Nelson side stacked with Black Jacks.

 Despite those singles wins Selina is delighted to return to specialising as a lead for the Commonwealth Games. “Leading is my strong point,” she says.

 As a teenager in 2014 Selina made her Games debut, winning a bronze medal at Glasgow in the fours with Mandy Boyd, Amy McIlroy and Val Smith. It was her experience there that made her appreciate that to have any chance on British greens again she would have to drastically alter her 2021-22 playing programme.

 That has involved some sacrifices on her part for rather than playing many of high-profile tournaments which she relishes she has concentrated on intensive practicing on slower greens similar to what will be encountered at Birmingham. Much of her time therefore has been spent at the Takapuna croquet club or at Auckland’s Rocky Nook club which has been specifically altered to replicate the much slower speed of UK greens.

 “It has been really tough to watch the various events go by and not competing in them” she says.

 While practicing on slower greens has been her priority this season Selina has done well in her limited competitive appearances. As well as her Centre singles win, she made the semi-finals of the national singles and spearheaded the Harbour sevens team into the national Inter-Centre Finals to be played in October and Takapuna into the National Inter-Club finals to be played November.

As her personal coach, Dorreen is naturally elated with Selina’s Games selection and will support her as a spectator at Birmingham. He believes Selina deserves all the rewards coming her way and that she has never lost the drive to be the best she can be.

 Grantham is joined in the men’s team by Shannon McIlroy, Andrew Kelly, Ali Forsyth and Mike Galloway.