This month as a part of our Bowling with a Disability Player Features, we spoke to Lisa Condy, an accomplished bowler with a vision impairment.
Lisa, 57, is from Tresco and plays for Lake Boga Bowling Club near Swan Hill. She was introduced to bowls by her husband David 9 years ago and he is now her eyes on the green as Lisa’s director.
Lisa was born with severe myopia (severe shortsightedness). Her sight deteriorated at 5 years old and has progressively worsened over time. Over 20 years ago, Lisa was left blind in her right eye after a fall. She now has macular degeneration and half sight in her left eye. This means that Lisa can now see only four meters in front of her.
David began playing bowls in 2007 and spent four years trying to encourage Lisa to have a roll with him. Lisa says the “nagging got to her, so she gave it a go”. She suffered from depression and anxiety at the time and David thought bowls would be good for Lisa’s mental health. While having a roll at Lake Boga BC fellow member Tony Scott pointed out that Lisa would be eligible for Blind Bowls.
Together, David and Tony encouraged Lisa to join Blind Bowls Victoria and compete in the Victorian Blind Bowls Championship, which she won! This entitled her to play at the 2012 National Blind Bowls Championships in Brisbane, where she won Gold in the B3 Ladies Singles and Silver in the B3 Mixed Pairs with Tony Scott. Lisa has played in seven State and five National Championships since 2012 and has won medals in all. Lisa unfortunately missed two National Championships due to two knee replacements.
At the 2012 National Championships, Lisa met another bowler from Victoria, Brenda Murray. Brenda encouraged Lisa to look at getting a Guide Dog. In 2013 Lisa befriended Vincent, her first Guide Dog. This gave Lisa the confidence to be out and about with him on her own. Lisa says, “The reassurance that Vincent would be at the end of the green,” allowed her to continue to play bowls. Vincent has since been retired and Lisa now has a new Guide Dog called Zaphy. Lisa hopes that Zaphy will be able to settle into the bowls life as well as Vincent did, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, introducing Zaphy to bowls has not been easy.
David shares Lisa’s success as her director and Lisa views it as an equal partnership. David and Lisa work together on every delivery. David stands behind Lisa and explains to her the angle and distance from the mat to the jack. He then lets her know when she is lined up and when to let the bowl go. Lisa says that every wrong bowl is David’s fault and every good bowl is hers!
Before venturing onto the bowling green, Lisa had never played sport or won medals. She felt as though sport of any kind was not for her due to her lack of eyesight and self-confidence.
David says “Playing bowls together was good for our relationships. It’s been good for us to have something we can work at together”. They play together regularly in Midweek and Saturday Pennant for Lake Boga BC. When David is not available there are other members who assist Lisa. Lisa and David enjoy many other tournaments around Victoria, these include able bodied and disability events.
For Lisa, the rewards go well beyond the trophies and medals. “It’s been life changing for me. Once I was a recluse, now I can’t wait to get out on the green and meet new people,” she says. Bowls has helped make Lisa face her fear of flying, now she will travel by plane to get to a bowls competition.
Lisa now sets goals, which she has never done before, and is dreaming of bigger and better goals. Her first goal was to be selected for the Australian team playing New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman at Port Macquarie this year. She was successful in earning a spot in the Australian team but will have to wait until next year. Due to COVID-19 the Trans-Tasman event has been postponed to 2021. Lisa’s second goal is to play in the World Games being held in Australia in 2022. Her third and final goal is to go to Birmingham, England to represent Australia at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Blind Bowls Victoria move around the state providing ongoing opportunities for bowlers with a vision impairment to participate in bowls. If you or someone you know has a vision impairment and would like to give bowls a go, Lisa encourages you to visit your local club. Or give Lisa a call on 0473 559 869 and she is happy to have a chat and put you in touch with the right people.
Find out more about Vision Impaired and other Disability Bowls opportunities here.
For more stories about our Victorian bowlers with a disability, please click here.
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