As Cyclone Evan bore down on Samoa there were some nervous folk watching the reports at two very different bowling clubs.
There was, of course, those at the Faleata Bowling Club in Samoa, who were in the path of the storm.
But some 5000km away in Bacchus Marsh, there were some equally concerned souls at the Avenue Bowling Club.
The main link between Faleata and Avenue is Oscar Mauff, Samoan born but now living in the Marsh.
He said the news from Faleata in the wake of the cyclone wasn’t great but it could have been much worse.
“The grass greens were flooded and will have to be replaced and regrown,” Mauff said.
“But the club survived with no buildings damaged. As I said, it could have been a whole lot worse.”
As Mauff, 69, describes it, he lived in Australia many years ago and “married a local girl” (Rhonda) before moving back to Samoa. It wasn’t until he moved back to Australia, to Bacchus Marsh, three years ago that he took to lawn bowls.
“I only played for the first time here at Avenue, with one of their corporate games two years ago,” Mauff says.
Returning to Samoa this year for a holiday, Mauff went looking for a bowls club there just to have a roll.
What he found was a struggling little club with only about 20 members and very little in the way of decent equipment.
“The club I played at is a fairly new club only with a very small membership,” Mauff says.
“It was all grown ups when I first played there. There were only two clubs in total in Samoa, Faleata and Tanoa. There were only 50 bowlers in the whole of Samoa and no junior club.”
Upon getting back to Bacchus Marsh, Mauff spoke to his clubmates at Avenue about bowls in Samoa and what might be done to promote the sport there.
He says he has been touched by the response.
“Avenue sent over mats, and 30 sets of bowls. Everytime I go back to Samoa I bring sets of bowls that have been donated by Avenue members. The Melton Bowls Club donated some kitties, which is also very good, and the Complete Bowls Specialists shop in Ballarat has chipped in with some bowls as well.”
The relationship between the two clubs has grown further, with 16 Avenue bowlers making the trip to Faleata in September.
“When the team arrived there was a greeting ceremony and the Samoan prime minister. He put down a couple of bowls himself,” Mauff says.
“While we were there Marie Russell and Steve Sullivan coached 40 school students from Vaitele Primary School with all the equipment we took.
“That started the junior program which is in full swing and we just introduced bowls to Robert Louis Stephenson school when I left.”
Now Faleata has a junior program up and running, and Tanoa has followed suit. Faleata will also host the World Junior Bowling Championship in 2015.
Thanks to Oscar Mauff and Avenue, bowls in Samoa is on a roll.