Champion Victorian Para-Sport Bowler Josh Barry Excited for Australian Jackaroos UK Tour

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

As part of its ongoing preparations for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the BCiB Australian Jackaroos will head to the UK this July for Test Series against England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For the first time, the Jackaroos’ UK tour is set to feature a contingent of elite para-sport bowlers including highly credentialed Victorian Josh Barry (Deer Park Bowls Club).

For Barry, the upcoming tour represents a wonderful opportunity to once again do what he does best – compete at the highest levels. While the inclusion of para-sport bowlers on this particular national team tour is an exciting move for the sport and all involved, this will be the third time Josh has been involved with the Jackaroos and the fourth time he has been to the UK.

“I can’t wait to go over there and represent my country,” Josh says. “I love playing bowls. It has taken me around Australia and around the world, including seven overseas trips for competition.”

Josh started playing bowls in 1993 when at the age of 13. “I lived across the road from the Warracknabeal Bowling Club and would sit on the fence and watch the bowlers play. Then one day they invited me in to play, and I played there for 20 years before heading to Sebastopol Bowls Club in the Ballarat/Geelong Premier League for three years,” Josh says. “Now I’ve been playing at Deer Park in the Melbourne Premier League for the past two years, and hopefully more to come!”

Amazingly, Josh still lives in Warracknabeal and travels five hours every weekend to play at Deer Park. “It takes a three-hour bus ride, then two trains to get to Deer Park Station, then I walk 1.6km to the club. I leave Warracknabeal on a Thursday and go home on a Sunday,” he says.

The regular commute is well worthwhile for a player who has achieved so much in the sport and continues to collect important silverware along with wonderful memories. In April, Josh won the Physical Pairs in the Multi-Disability National Championships in Brisbane with Barry Brennan (Moama Bowling Club), while back in May he won the Open Triples event at the Multi-Disability Lawn Bowls National Championships (Multibowl) alongside Brennan and Lucas Protopapas (Ringwood Bowls Club) in Mackay, Queensland. Between June 1 and June 14, Josh is competing at the Australian Open on the Gold Coast.

“It was good at the Bowls Victoria Championships. It was a busy week as I was playing in the mainstream pairs and fours as well as the disability event, but it was great to win the fours and pairs and come runner-up in the singles by one shot,” he says.

“And then going to Mackay for the Nationals, it was my 19th year in a row and winning the triples for the third year in a row was good too. Then I went one better than last year with Barry in the pairs, and I won the singles, so it was an amazing experience. Being able to win all three gold medals and be the first person to achieve that was pretty special.”

Even after all that success, Josh hasn’t changed his attitude to the sport he fell in love with a quarter of a century ago. “I just love competing against the best bowlers in the state and making new friends,” he says.

Josh and the rest of the combined able-bodied and para-sport Jackaroos squad will primarily base themselves in Birmingham and compete at Royal Leamington Spa, the official bowls venue for Birmingham 2022, as well as travelling to Wales for an additional series.

“It is terrific that this time around, our para-sports players will be able to join us on the journey, allowing them to share in the experiences and learnings our Jackaroos received last year,” National Coach Steve Glasson told Bowls Australia recently.