Talented Vic Bowler Continues to Inspire Community
Lucas Protopapas (right)
As both a dedicated Bowls Victoria volunteer and a world champion bowler with a physical disability, Lucas Protopapas is a constant source of inspiration to his friends, family, peers and the wider bowls community.
Protopapas was born with cerebral palsy in his legs and has undergone countless surgeries in his 22 years, yet these challenges haven’t prevented him playing and enjoying bowls.
“I couldn’t participate in high-impact running sports because of the physical disability in my legs,” Protopapas explains. “My parents and my grandparents all play bowls so when I was about eight years old our local bowls club asked me to come down and try it. Even though I was a bit nervous at first, once I gave it a go I never looked back.”
Goals & golds
Protopapas makes a habit of setting goals that truly test his spirit and determination – just like in 2014, when a year of gym training helped him conquer the Dandenong Ranges’ 1000 Steps, raising almost $9,000 for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
The next year, Protopapas (then based at Heatherdale Bowls Club) represented Australia at the 2015 Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association’s (CPISRA) World Games held in Nottingham, England, where he and friend Josh Barry (Sebastopol Bowling Club) won gold in the coveted pairs event.
“Just being selected was one of the proudest moments of my life, but we ended up winning the gold medal! Coming back to Melbourne to celebrate with everyone, including my bowls club mates, was an amazing feeling,” says Protopapas.
The young Victorian then capped off an outstanding 2015 by claiming the B5/6 men’s singles title at the National Multi-Disability Bowls Championships on the Gold Coast. After moving to the Mulgrave Country Club, Protopapas added a number of significant achievements to his excellent record, including gold in the men’s triples alongside Josh Barry and Ken Hanson (City Bowls Club Colac) at the 2017 Multi-Bowl Nationals at Raymond Terrace, NSW.
Having played the game he loves for the majority of his life, Protopapas was thrilled to take up a volunteer role with Bowls Victoria two years ago. He also spends one day each week lending a hand at Bowls Australia.
“It’s all about being involved and giving back to the game and the people who have helped me so much,” he says. “I try to get my voice out there and share the message that bowls is really fun, especially for people with disabilities, and also for kids, who are the future of the sport. I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity.”
Protopapas believes bowls can be a perfect match for all sorts of people. “It doesn’t matter if you have a physical, intellectual or blindness disability, bowls is inclusive and it’s a sport for anyone,” he says.
“My advice is to get out there and give it a crack like I did. You’re out in the sun having a great time and one day you might even get the chance to represent your state or country. If you’re not sure how the game works, jump on YouTube and watch the pros in action!”