Disability Bowls Continues to Grow for Casual and Competitive Players

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

The steady growth of disability bowls in Victoria – thanks in large part to the dedication of volunteers at Bowls Victoria and numerous bowls clubs who help to increase awareness and participation – means more people with disability (PwD) are discovering exciting opportunities to get active in their community.

“It’s really important to us that clubs are running disability bowls programs at the grassroots level,” explains Darci Tierney, Participation Co-ordinator at Bowls Victoria. “Local programs such as Access All Abilities events allow PwD to come and try our sport, but more importantly they are getting out, socialising and making meaningful connections with people in their community.”

Success at the elite level is certainly creating awareness for disability bowls in the state. This is especially noticeable in Victoria’s Physical Disability Squad, which has seen a steady increase in numbers. 

 “Bowls Victoria recognises that people are much more than their disability, and PwD are now seeing that our squads are actually a way to play more bowls and follow a pathway to represent Victoria and even Australia. This change in attitude towards disability bowls is a major driver for our squads continuing to grow,” Tierney says.

“Unfortunately, not all of our squads are increasing in numbers. We are working hard to promote disability bowls in every way we can, to try and increase awareness about our squads and what we can offer. We still have quite a bit of work to do but hopefully one day All Abilities bowls will be as well-known and as highly regarded as mainstream bowls.”

Championship events

2019 Multi Disabilities Championships

The 2019 Multi Disabilities Championships (state championships), hosted by Golden Square Bowls Club and Bendigo East Bowls Club, showcased disability bowls to both bowlers and spectators attending State Champions Week. The competition and camaraderie on display made for an absolutely fantastic and successful event with some very impressive bowls played throughout the Championships. A list of all the winners in each of the singles and pairs sections can be found here

2019 Multi Bowl Nationals

The Victorian Bowlers with a Physical Disability (PD) travelled to Mackay for the 2019 Multi Bowl Nationals and achieved great success, with the team winning the Interstate Aggregate Champions trophy as well as a collection of medals. Together the team won 4 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals, placing in all but two events. 

Alison East is a member of Victoria’s Physical Disability Squad and was part of the stateside that travelled to Mackay.

“Representing Victoria at the Multi-Bowl Nationals in Mackay was an amazing experience,” East says. “Wow, what a fantastic time! Everyone was so kind and helpful. I met a lot of friends and I still keep in contact with most of them.”

East was also thrilled to make it through to the singles finals, where she had to play her triples teammate Janet Morrison for the bronze medal. “Yours truly got up and won! I played some great bowls that day, I was determined to come home with a medal,” she says. “It was the best time of my life.”

Results can be found here.

Other events and achievements

  • Integrated Pairs: Reached capacity in 2019 with 42 teams competing in the event at Berwick BC.
  • Blind Bowls Victoria State Team: The team headed over to Perth this year for the Blind Bowls Championships. Victoria finished second in the overall rankings, falling short of winners Queensland by just 0.4 points.
  • Intellectual Disability (ID) Vic Country v Vic Metro: The highest level of representative bowls for ID bowlers. This year the event was held at Dandenong Club Bowls Club. It also served as the farewell event for Claire and Glen Baskett, who oversaw the Bowls Victoria Intellectual Disability Squad for 15 years. Vic Country won the event for the third year in a row.

Standout players for the year


  • Shirley Ivanovic – Silver in National Singles at Mackay. Her first time being selected for the Stateside.
  • Josh Barry – Stellar performances at the State and National Disability championship events led to his selection for the Jackaroos Para Sport Squad.


  • Maree Fenech – Best Individual Bowler and Best Overall Individual Performance, two gold medals and a silver at the Blind Bowls Championships (Perth).     
  • Ivan Shortis – Gold medal in B2 Men’s Singles at Blind Bowls Champs (Perth), Gold Medal in State Championships.


  • David Connell – Bowlers with an Intellectual Disability Singles Champion at Multi Disabilities Championships. Member of the winning Country team at the Vic Country v Vic Metro.

Ones to watch:

  • Greg Toy: Men’s Singles PD State Champion, taking on Josh Barry in the final.
  • Margaret Rosewall – Second in the State Championships for Bowlers with a Vision Impairment.
  • Joanna Lomagno – Made the final of the ID singles at the Multi Disabilities Championships. Fantastic bowling and sportsmanship throughout the year.

Opportunities for disability bowlers

  • Many great opportunities at every level of bowls.
  • School bowls – bowls days run by clubs for specialist schools.
  • Programs at clubs through disability service providers.
  • ‘Come and Try’ days at bowls clubs around the state.
  • Bowls Victoria events – this includes regional bowls days, specialist school events, open age events such as Integrated Pairs, State events etc.
  • State/National events

What’s coming up?

Bowls Victoria’s Multi-Disability Open Day will be kicking off the 2019/20 disability bowls season on 25 August 2019 at Deer Park Bowls Club. This event is open to new and experienced bowlers.

More and more clubs are showing interest in running events to provide PwD with the opportunity to get active in an extremely accessible sport.

How to get involved

  • Head down to your local club and find out what opportunities they have available for you.
  • Visit the Bowls Victoria calendar to check out upcoming events and come along.
  • Join one of our Disability Bowls Squads. People with any level of skill can join the squads. You will be able to come to our squad days and train with our state coaches.

Get in touch with the Bowls Victoria Participation Team by email at participation@bowlsvic.org.au for any questions or to get involved with the appropriate squad.