IT TAKES a lot of courage to walk away from a successful sporting club in search of bigger and better opportunities, but new Sebastopol recruit Damian Riches took that plunge at the end of last year in search of a title in the Ballarat-Geelong premier bowls division.
Riches, 40, was approached by Sebastopol selector Rob Baker and close friend Glen Baudinette, also a member of Sebastopol, at the end of the 2011-12 bowls season, and asked if he was interested in a stint in Sebastopol’s premier league division.
At the time he was coming off several successful seasons with Cobden in the Corangamite league, winning multiple club championships awards, the Corangamite Association singles championship, and was also a part of Cobden’s division one premier side in 2009.
“To leave all my mates behind and go to another club was a huge step, but one I felt I had to take,” Riches said.
“Premier league bowls has been a real eye-opener for me this year, but I’ve certainly enjoyed it so far.
“Everyone at the club has been really welcoming – I heard a few stories about Sebastopol not being the friendliest of clubs but the support that is given to its members is just amazing.”
Riches has since become a stalwart of Sebastopol’s bid for finals this year, playing consistently and well in the third spot and further developing his game on a range of different surfaces
“The standard is a step up – but not a huge step up,” Riches said
“Consistency -wise, the level is a bit higher, but there are a hell of a lot of bowlers in the Corangamite league that would be right at home in the Ballarat-Geelong premier division.
“The team atmosphere has been great, even though we’ve had a few disappointing losses early on in the season, but I have no doubt that we have the ability to win the flag if everyone is playing well.