In August, Bedfordview Country Club was host to a three-week bowls festival, which culminated in a unique event, the Accumulo Rainbow Trips tournament
This event invited the country’s top bowlers living with various disabilities to team up with some of the leading able-bodied bowlers and the top development bowlers in 48 teams of three (or trips).
Desiree Levin, a remarkable lady with Guillain-Barré syndrome, was one of the disability bowlers and the engine behind organising the event. She was also one of the participants in the 48 teams, each with a bowler in a wheelchair, or with prosthetic or missing limbs, cerebral palsy, polio etc., while others still had visual impairments and bowl with a director to guide them and help them aim… While of different ages, genders, races and varying abilities, the bowlers had one thing in common – they weren’t going to let anything stand in the way of their passion for the sport.
Desiree shares that when she became disabled a few years ago, she decided she was not going to let her physical circumstances determine the course of her life. Already a member of the Lombardy East Bowling Club, she decided to initiate the Rainbow Trips tournament, which, as its name suggests, has a vision of bringing bowlers of all colours, creeds, ages and ability levels together under one roof. “Each year we have grown and it has been our privilege to join hands with the Accumulo team as part of the Accumulo Bowls Festival.” She said this year, more than 380 bowlers signed up for the Accumulo Festival, although in the end only 144 could take part in the trips.
Each team then had to play seven mini matches and deliver 294 bowls over the course of two days to determine the ultimate positions, but in truth there were no winners and losers, only winners.
Desiree said of the sport, “It is easy to learn, but hard to master,” and that because it was relatively non-physical, anyone could participate. “Before, there used to be just black bowls balls but the image of the sport is changing from being ‘old man’s marbles’ to a social sport requiring great skill which accommodates the youth. The greens of the Bedfordview Country Club were littered with some brightly coloured balls, which Desiree explained was also a move to get younger people excited about the sport. She noted that, ironically, becoming what society might label ‘disabled’ had in fact been the Launchpad for her dreams. “I have been to the World Championships, I have been a bowls analyst on TV and I have featured in many newspapers,” she said. “I have become more focused as a person and more determined than ever to live my life and give of my best.”