by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Bowls In Focus : August September 2010
18 Bowls In Focus The first thing you notice about David Donaldson is his jaw; it’s strong, firm and square, and I’d wager a dollar or two there’s been a few times throughout the journey that he’s stuck it way out there in the face of adversary. He probably copped a couple for his trouble, it happens, but more often than not it would have been enough to prove a point. This is the sort of guy you want next to you in the trenches. He’s as tough as nail is our ‘Donners’, which probably comes from his dir t-farming background in country St Arnaud, where as a kid he learned a lot of life’s lessons, more often than not the hard way. He learned his bowls there too - picking up enough early savvy to beat the legendary Cec Arbuckle for the club’s singles title in 1971, his first year in the game. Ironically, nine years later when the Victorian selectors picked Donaldson to make his state debut against South Australia at Bendigo on Boxing Day, the late great Arbuckle was in his rink along with Neville Wood-Bradley and skipper Charlie Pavone. Some would say he’s been a journeyman in the world of bowls having had successful stints at Gee- long West, Flemington Kensington, Moonee Ponds and Essendon, but heck, that’s over a 30-year period. I know blokes who’ve got more hatbands than underpants in their top drawer, and from a much shorter time in the game. Big Dave is a super player, there’s no deny- ing that. There’s enough gold lettering on honour boards around the state to float a small country’s national debt. But, more importantly, he’s a great coach, communicator and mentor – just ask any- one who has been under his tutelage. However, this season Donaldson’s assets will face the toughest test of them all when he takes on the coaching job at the mighty Altona club. Now there is no disrespect intended when I suggest that people at the powerful bayside club do not accept mediocrity very well at all. They have a proud record in Melbourne’s elite metropolitan premier division pennant competi- tion, having been in nine grand finals since it was formed 14 years ago and winning six. In 2008, in pursuit of a hattrick of victories, the A’s missed the main event, which brought about the demise of chirpy little Robbie Campbell, the club’s incumbent coach. Similarly, after missing last year’s final the club moved quickly to dispense with the coaching services of state skipper Wayne Roberts. Enough said. But Donaldson is unfazed by his new club’s obsession with success. “It’s a great challenge to take on the Altona role and I love a challenge,” he said. “I fully understand the culture and have no illusions about the expectations. We’ve got some top class recruits joining us and a couple of former greats have returned to the fold. “It’s my job to mould the right combinations from the available personnel and to get the guys playing at their best every time we go out.” Club luminary Neal Pattie agrees. “Dave was our unanimous choice from the list of candidates,” he said. “He plays the game hard, which we like, and his communication skills and leadership style are exactly what we were looking for. Plus he’s a great bloke who will get the best out of our younger players.” But there’s another side to the legendary hard man who travels from Geelong to Melbourne each week to fulfill his bowls commitments. And there’s another challenge in his life that he has happily accepted with similar gusto. A couple of months ago he and wife Kerry took a well-earned holiday to Fiji to charge up the batter- ies. But it was during their time at a plush resort in Sigatoka that the Donaldson’s had a life-changing experience. “There we were sunning ourselves in luxury without a care in the world,” he recalls. “But after a few days we visited the village of Karolevu, which was less than a kilometre from the resort. It is a community of about 250 people who are probably the happiest and proudest I’ve ever met, but they were living in abject squalor. “We saw women washing clothes in a filthy creek, kids with untreated sores and families living in awful conditions. “The whole community produces souvenirs and artifacts for sale to tourists and all of the money is pooled. Their main diet is fish, but when the catch is poor they substitute it with Tapioca which is in plentiful supply.” Dave and Kerry were touched by the welcome they received and were equally moved by the vil- lage school’s lack of equipment and materials. “When you consider the teacher only earns the equivalent of $13 a week, it stands to reason that the budget for books, pens and stuff couldn’t be high,” Dave continued. “So, next time we went into Sigatoka, Kerry and I bought some stuff for the kids and we even found a birthday cake for a little bloke who was turning five.” In fact the Donaldson’s returned to Karolevu on another four occasions and made a respectful connection with its people and village chief Ratu Serelino Sarogo. “On about our third time in the village they called me ‘Ratu’, which means ‘chief’ and I could tell they had taken Kerry and I into their hear ts. It was something really special,” he added. Since returning home Dave has undertaken the challenge to help the Karolevuans and called in some favours from his business connections. A shipment of colouring books, exercise books, pencils, crayons, teaching aids and backpacks was heading to Fiji soon after. “We’ll endeavour to send some basic imple- ments such as crowbars, shovels and posthole diggers over there as well,” he said. “When you consider the abundance of gifts we enjoy every day of our lives, the chance to help some people who genuinely need it and would be so grateful is no big deal, but I intend the associa- tion to be on an on-going basis.” No doubt the future challenges for David Donaldson - bowls evangelist and benefactor to the needy - will test his spirit, but you can be sure he’ll manage them all with a strong jaw and that trademark grin. - David Allen • Above: New Altona club coach David Donaldson. • Left: Donaldson in action during a recent event at Rich River. • Below: ‘Ratu’ Dave helps a young Karolevu boy celebrate his fifth birthday. ‘Ratu’ Dave Takes Up The Challenge
June July 2010