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Three reasons to play bowls

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Do you need to convince your friends to join you on the green? Or maybe you’re just trying to educate them that bowls is not just the sport you play when you’re old. Say no more! We at Bowls Plus have trawled through our archives and have spoken to bowlers from the highest level to members at the local bowlo to hear what they have to say about this great sport.

#1 Competition

What other sports allow you to share a playing field with the world’s finest? At this year’s Australian Open, over 1,000 bowlers gathered at Broadbeach for one of the world’s biggest bowls carnivals.

From international talent like Ryan Bester to global champions like Jo Edwards and Karen Murphy, the average bowler has the chance to play against the stars.

Family teams are common, as bowls is the ideal cross-generational sport. We recently interviewed step-father and step-son duo of Steve Sullivan and Simon McDonald in Bowls Plus and they always look forward to spending some good quality time together on the green.

“On the green, we don’t need to pump ourselves up because we know each so other well,” Simon said.

“It feels special, it’s something we talk about a lot.

“We’ve got that connection.”

The Happy Bowler, Boyd Dumbrell, also believes that bowls is the perfect avenue for athletes that can no longer take the rigours of the footy field or any other high-intensity sport. He has experience of it himself, as he took up bowls in part so he could skip footy training. He sees a future where former professional sportspeople can find a second life of sporting success on the green.

“When first-grade footballers finish up and move out of the limelight, there’s no reason they can’t be the best in a different sport,” The Happy Bowler said.

Already starting this type of initiative at his local club in Valentine, Boyd is getting different sporting clubs to settle their differences on the green. One day it might be the soccer club vs the tennis club or a clash of the codes in rugby league against Australian football.

#2 Social/ Mental Health

Unlike other sports, a bowls club isn’t just a place play the game. It’s also a friendly spot to have
a drink, enjoy music, meet others and have a
great meal. For a nation that prides itself on its sporting prowess, the bowls green can provide that competitive team environment once more.

In a Bowls Australia commissioned study conducted by La Trobe University, it was found that the social support network created within bowls clubs was what kept people playing. One respondent said that bowls clubs can be safe spaces for women to socialise, play sport and have a drink.

“It’s different for men,” she said.

“When a woman loses her husband, it’s hard to go out socially by yourself.

“Where there’s men and women, husband and wife, it’s a bit awkward.

“Anyone can come up to the club here, bring a lady friend, go to the bar, get a drink and sit down and be as happy as Larry.

They wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing that in a hotel.”

Bowls was an important part of Darryl Coventry’s recovery after his battle with PTSD and depression. He started the Bowls Gr8 for Brains initiative to help others going through similar challenges. Darryl wants to create a space where current and former service personnel to try bowls as a part of their recovery from mental health issues.

“Bowls became my go-to, my therapy and it provided me with a way to relearn about real-life every time I played,” he said.

“It [bowls] gives you something to focus on and helps divert attention away from traumatic memories and bring people back into the moment. It also allows you to communicate and bond with other people in a safe setting.

#3 Inclusivity

Age, fitness level or even physical disabilities are not a barrier for anyone looking to hit the green.

Current Australian Open Disabled Pairs Champion Lucas Protopapas, who was born with diplegic cerebral palsy, said he never let his disability stop him from doing what he loves. He works as a coach for all ages at his bowls club and has transformed his passion into a career.

“It comes down to ability, not capability,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a physical, intellectual or visual disability, bowls is inclusive and it’s a sport for anyone.”

There are innovations all through the sport to make sure everyone has a chance to play. Bowlers with
a vision-impairment have markers on the side of the green to help tell distance as well as their own directors to help them imagine where the bowls are. Those with intellectual disabilities can have similar assistance when playing.

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