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Pastimes: Game for all ages

05 October 2010

Sian Gordon

MANY people think that bowls is boring; a sedate game in which the elderly and retired amble up and down the green in a vain attempt to hurl a large ball close to a smaller white ball. No doubt you will have passed a bowling green and seen varying shades of white, ranging from a simple skirt and blouse to a yellowing waterproof jacket and horrid flat brown shoes.

But this is only half the story. Bowls is a compelling and absorbing game in which you end up dancing around and shouting at bowls as if you had some control over their fate.

Bowls at a local club is ultimately a game of friendship and laughter. It can be as physically and psycho­logically demanding as you want it to be, but it can be enjoyed at any age and level. For me, the beauty of bowls is twofold: the level of skill required, and the diversity of the characters that play it.

There are four disciplines: singles, pairs, triples, and fours. Within these, you can play in a single-sex, mixed, or unrestricted format, but the aim is always the same — to score shots (points) by getting your bowls closer to the target ball (jack) than your op­ponents’. There are a variety of games to choose from: league games, club com­petitions, interclub matches, coun­ty fixtures, and international play.

Playing bowls opens up oppor­tunities for endless socialising — with your own club members as well as those of visiting teams — with matches, quiz nights, fund-raisers, and travel around the county and beyond. What a wonderful way to soak up the sunshine of the summer months, and to appreciate the beauty of nature, all while keeping fit.

To make a start, visit www.bowlsengland.com, or www.eiba.com, for a beginner’s guide and a list of indoor and outdoor clubs. You will need to have some coaching lessons, and all the equipment that you need to hire will be available from the club.

Once you start playing properly, there are a variety of different col­oured bowls from which to choose, from bright red to speckled green and yellow if this takes your fancy.

I have played bowls for 14 years (above), and have now reached a high standard, playing in the Ladies England International Teams and in the Commonwealth Games Squad. I have travelled to Hong Kong, India, Spain, and Australia, playing against some of the world’s top players at the best venues.

I have made lifelong friends all around the world, but, in many respects, it is being at my home clubs amid friends and extended family which gives me the most pleasure.

The bowls competition at the Com­mon­wealth Games takes place from 4 to 13 October.

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