Aussie title to Akasha

Memorable achievement: Akasha Fortune with the Australian Open girls' Under 18s singles trophy.

Akasha Fortune played her first official game of bowls for Romsey Bowling Club as a eight-year-old, when the club was desperately short of pennant players.

Progressively she became hooked on the sport, and on the Gold Coast on June 21, won the Australian Open under 18 girls’ singles bowls championship.

The 17-year-old Kyneton High School year 12 student has enjoyed her best season ever, and on Friday was one of six players selected in the Victorian 2024 women’s development squad.

Akasha’s ambition is to become a regular in the women’s state side, and appears unfazed by the level of success achieved in recent months. Wins included the Victorian Under 18 girls’ title.

Her father Danny won the men’s singles championship at Club Sunbury earlier this year, and he is particularly proud of Akasha’s performance in the Australian Open.

“Winning the prestige event was just reward for all the hard work she has put in,” he said, as he prepared for another day as gardener at Sacred Heart College in Kyneton.

Danny has a fine record behind him at Romsey Bowling Club, and said moving to play at Sunbury was designed to give Akasha every opportunity to maximise her potential in the sport.

In particular, Akasha credits long time Sunbury club coach Mark Cowan as being a very positive and strong influence in her bowls development.

“Mum (Nikki) doesn’t play bowls, but she has always been a great support, and was on the Gold Coast for the big event.”

Balancing her studies in year 12 with bowls has been a challenge, and Akasha was thrilled that so many friends and teachers at KHS actually watched the live streaming of her final against South Australian Anda Panchawat.

Ironically, Panchawat had beaten Akasha 21-18 in the sectional rounds, and the latter she one of two players who made their way into the last eight on shots differential.

In her quarter-final, Akasha gained a confidence boost by defeating 2023 Australian girls’ champion Reese Finn-Young 21-13.
In the semi-final, she accounted for Lacey Gerick 21-14.

The final saw Akasha establish an 11-4 lead before her opponent rallied to be a shot behind; then the lead extended to 18-11 before Panchawat rallied to be a shot down again.

The high-pressure final saw Akasha produce several clutch bowls for a 21-17 victory. She received a $1200 cheque, her biggest pay day, as the new champion.

Her performance brought back memories to many of Kyneton’s Chloe Stewart beginning bowls at the age of nine, and going through the ranks to ultimately become a high quality state and Australian representative, with a bowls career in Queensland.

The only other sport Akasha has tried was girls’ football, but concussions when playing with Lancefield put an end to that. Lot safer on a bowling green?

Her younger sisters, Milika and Charlee, have not been recruited to bowls.

Instead their focus is on footy, with Mileka representing the RDFNL in interlegue this year, and Charlee playing in both the mixed and girls’ teams for Lancefield.


Asked why she thinks her level of performance has been particularly high in the last 12 months, Akasha attributes it to greater consistency overall. Playing with and against strong opposition has also helped.

“In terms of consistency, I think the Gold Coast matches were the best I have been.”

Akasha says she now enjoys playing singles and pairs more than pennant.

“Bowls is a great sport. I just love it.”

She has fond memories of becoming the Victorian girls’ pairs champion when she was 13, in company with Lily Dodd (Bacchus Marsh). This gave her impetus to improve further.

Romsey Bowling Club has been quick to congratulate the 17-year-old on her superb Australian Open achievement, as has Kyneton High School.