ROLLING INSPIRATION contributor Mandy Latimore participated in the Rainbow Trips Ultimate Performance Bowls Competition. She shares her experience.
Now in its fifth year, the Rainbow Trips Ultimate Performance Bowls Competition was sponsored by Ultimate Performance with a total prize purse of R30 000. More than 200 entrants signed up.
“The aim of the event, while raising funds for bowlers with physical disabilities, is to promote the development of the sport through inclusiveness,” says Desiree Levin, founder and co-ordinator of the competition.
A true reflection of a rainbow, this competition caters for every type of bowler in one competition, including: youth (under 35); bowlers with disabilities (physically, visually or intellectually impaired); and bowlers without disabilities of all ages.
Trips Bowls means playing together in teams of three. Each team had to have a player from three of the four categories: under 55; people of colour; people with disabilities; bowlers without physical disabilities. Teams were entered without disclosing the strength of each player, which made it difficult to seed everyone as accurately as is common with league bowls. The organisers, however, did a sterling job. They even assissted teams who had a member pull out at the last minute by using some bowlers with disabilities and some youth players to play in two teams in order to enable these teams to compete!
This year, the competition saw double the number of entrants of last year, with the youngest being seven years old and the oldest 87, proving the slogan Bowls1Sport4Life really is true! There were a large number of development bowlers from Roosevelt Park, Belgravia and the Wanderers, who are all school kids.
It was great to play against them, and to observe their focus and dedication to the sport. Competing were some of our Protea Bowlers such as Princess and Tracy (blind bowlers), Desiree, Annatjie, Wimpie, Tobie and Eddie and our only quadriplegic bowler Handre, who uses a specially modified bowl-dispenser rail.
Some of the novice players included Ina Rowles, who played with her team from Groenkloof Bowling Club, and Versha Rowjee, who is a local bowler who joined the teams that travelled from the Chatsworth Bowls Club in KwaZulu-Natal for the competition. Each team was given an identifying name for fun and in keeping with the spirit of the competition.
The format of play, also unique, is where Sections, Divisions and Teams are seeded so that broad categories of competency and experience can be established. Having so many entrants meant that three greens were needed and Edenvale Bowls Club stepped up to host the competition.
In each match, points were awarded for each end won and overall points for a win were added together. On Sunday, at the Bowl qualifiers, the top two teams of each division, of each section and the two best scores of third place of each section came together at Lombardy Club to play for the Bowl (Edenvale needed one of their greens for their usual members).
Sadly, this meant that we were split from our mates and couldn’t watch them and there had to be two prize-giving events. The winners of the Bowl were the Sensational Seaweed team comprising Margie Robertson (able), Dolf Scheepers (person of colour) and Graham Rater (under 35).
Joint second were the Naughty Nineties and the Avid Avos consisting of Mandy Latimore with her team mates Robbie Thompson and Dunkeld Bowls Club greens keeper Isaac Goliath.
Winners of the Shield were the Cocky Canoes with Carmen Fourie (Youth), Jonty Rhodes (person of colour) and Andre Momberg (able). The Plate was awarded to the Marvellous Melons, consisiting Ina Rowles (wheelchair user), Johannes (the Groenkloof greens keeper and person of colour) and able-bodied Johan Engelbrecht.
Although the top six teams in the Bowl and the top three in each of the Shield and Plate section won money, everyone received a prize of some sort, from travel mugs to umbrellas and buckets. Half of all the bowling teams in the top 24 teams included people with disabilities.
Overall it was a great weekend of bowls, fun, making new friends and meeting up with old ones. Bowls is a wonderful sport for persons with disabilities to compete on an equal level with able-bodied people. This competition attracted at least seven new bowlers for Disability Bowls.
For more information contact either Desiree Levin on 072 371 5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Eddie van Heiden on 082 453 6439 or email@example.com.
Mandy Latimore is a consultant in the disability sector in the fields of travel and access. email: firstname.lastname@example.org