Five months since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Scottish Para-Lawn Bowls team continues to go from strength to strength.
I went to Falkirk Indoor BC to see the development and elite squads in training. It was also to find out more about those who have been selected for the IBD, (International Bowls for the Disabled) Championship 2015 which is being held in New Zealand from (16 – 27 February 2015).
The list is below, players are:
Billy Allan (Cowdenbeath); Gary Clelland (Linlithgow); Martin Hunter (Burntisland); Michael Simpson (Auchtermuchty); Garry Brown (Kirkmuirhill); John Hughes (Stewarton); Rosemary Lenton (Dumfries); Barbara MacMillan (Cowdenbeath); Irene Edgar (Saltcoats); Billy Edgar (Saltcoats); Maria Spencer (Dunfermline) and Harry Harris (Larbert)
Staff supporting the players:
Bob Dick – Head Coach, Ron McArthur – Assistant Head Coach/Director, Celia Smith – Assistant Coach, Eric MacMillan – Assistant Coach, David Thomas – Director, Grace Whitton – Director, Sarah Jane Ewing – Director.
They have appointed a Team Manager who will accompany the team. Liz Mendl has been confirmed as their manager. She has an impressive track records as previously appointed as the Head of Medical Services for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and comes from a physio background. Her valuable expertise will be instrumental to them.
One of the coaches selected to accompany the Scottish Para-Bowls team to New Zealand is Ron McArthur who is a Director and Silver Medallist at this year’s Commonwealth Games. He was a Director for the Visually Impaired player, Robert Conway. Ron told me more about the IBD Championship in New Zealand.
The International Bowls for the Disabled, (IBD) originated from the family of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which is one of the largest sporting organisations in the World and the main international body governing sport for athletes with a disability.
Para-Bowls was formerly on the programme of the Paralympic Games. However, Bowls was excluded from the Paralympic Games in 1996. Two reasons contributed to the outcome, they had insufficient nations participating in the sport and Bowls was not feature on the calendar of Summer Olympic Games. While Para-Bowls has been included in Sporting events, i.e. Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, bowlers with disabilities have been excluded from major competitions.
The Scottish Para-Bowls squad and the coaches couldn’t begin the selection process for the players to be completing in the IBD Championship 2015 until after the Commonwealth Games. This has left them with a tight turnaround.
The IBD Championship in New Zealand will be challenging and the Scottish team will have to match the standard of 2011 performance of when they were second place in the World. South Africa are currently considered the best in the World.
Those who have been selected, haven’t been to New Zealand before and all efforts will on coaches to ensure that the players are settled and prepared for the competitions. These competitions will be highly competitive as players will be completing in Singles and Pairs competitions.
We look forward to hearing how the Scottish Para-Lawn Bowls team progress in the IBD Championship 2015.
In 2015, I will start to explore the women inequality in bowls and in particular among women with disabilities; coaching people with disabilities in bowls and having a level playing field for those bowlers who have a disabilities and have to financial funds themselves to play for their countries. These are some of the issues I will explore and address in the New Year.
In meantime, I look forward to introducing James, (Jim) Irwin, my coach in my next instalment. Thanks to a coach who transformed me into bowler.