This article was written and submitted to ROLLING INSPIRATION by Christopher Patton
ROLLING INSPIRATION has featured the sport of lawn bowls several times in its pages as the ideal sport for people with all types of physical disabilities. During 2016 the sport was featured twice, including the cover article in Issue 3. At this year’s Disability Bowls Nationals, which was held in the Sables District in Johannesburg’s West Rand, the turnout of first-time participants was the highest it has ever been.
A third of the field consisted of debutants. We’d like to believe that the coverage in the magazine played a role in attracting new members and inspiring them to play in a tournament exclusively for bowlers with disabilities.
The tournament, which was held from July 29 to August 5, is for bowlers with physical disabilities as well as visually impaired bowlers, who play with the guidance of directors. Both disability groups play separately, but at the invitation of a rotating host district, which provides the catering, greens and playing schedule.
The bowling community of West Rand can be proud of their efforts in hosting an impeccable tournament. It was all done on a voluntary basis by the many kind individuals from Discovery and Krugersdorp Bowls Clubs.
The number of male entrants is usually large enough to allow them to play singles in their respective classification (based on an individual’s disability, balance and strength). In the last decade, the number of female bowlers was usually too low, and so they had to play either in a multi-classification single group or with their male counterparts.
This year, however, we were thrilled to see the number of female entrants more than double from four entrants in 2016 to eight. While it may sound insignificant, this is genuine growth, establishing an encouraging platform for the future.
All the participants made an outstanding effort, but three bowlers in particular shone, winning gold medals in both singles and pairs: Wimpie Viljoen (Northern Cape), Handre Visagie (Southern Free State) and Desiree Levin (Johannesburg).
The other medallists and participants came from all over the country, although there were very few players from the coastal districts. This is partly explained by the fact that the tournament was held in Gauteng. Hopefully, when the tournament is held for the first time in Eden District (Southern Cape) next year, we might attract bowlers from districts in the country’s south.