More than 150 people took to the green last week for the opening nights of Manjimup’s 27th annual community bowls competition. Reigning champions — the Tiger Boys — returned this year in an attempt to secure a repeat victory, while three teams of Timor-Leste workers joined in to give the locals a run for their money. The five-week competition has a rich history and strong following, started in 1996 and driven by local John “Doc” Ryan and several others as a 106-team competition. Last Wednesday and Thursday night, 38 teams competed in the opening two nights of this year’s Mitre10 Retravision, Doc Ryan Community Bowls. Labour Solutions Welfare Assistant Brianna Doyle said the three teams of Timor-Leste workers in Manjimup under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to immerse themselves in the community and play a sport loved by locals. “These workers are a long way from home and it’s really important that we support them to feel connected to the local community,” she said. “Without them, a lot of our businesses would struggle and so we want to make them feel at home. “The workers all said they had a great time. “Bowls is not a common sport in the Pacific, so it was a chance for them to try something different.” Despite the fierce competition, both greens in use lit up with laughter and smiles, with many newcomers grateful for the help of the veteran bowlers. Event coordinator Mike Cully said there was a great focus on ensuring new teams were paired with veteran teams, while known competitive teams were paired against each other to keep the competition fair and enjoyment levels high. Wednesday’s winner was Ipsen Group, while Thursday’s winner was Girls Girls Girls. Mr Cully said many prizes were on offer over the weeks, including a weekly raffle prize and a nightly wheel-spin raffle. The Kleenheat sponsorship raffle winner last week was Des Nock from Almighty White Ants from Thursday nights’ competition.