Integrated Pairs event celebrates 10 years!

by Team BV

The much loved Integrated Pairs event will be held for the 10th time on the 14th January 2024, at Berwick Bowling Club.

Due to the intervention of COVID, this 10th event is being held two years later than what should have been, however history cannot be changed.

Our family first became involved in Disability (Para) Bowls about 15 years ago, when we started to attend squad days for bowlers with an Intellectual Disability. This meant early starts from Colac as they were always held in Melbourne or the suburbs.

These become not only great bowls learning days for Steven, but also for myself. Beth made friends with other parents whilst we were learning more about bowls. A network of friendships was formed that remain to this day.

I learnt that bowlers with physical disabilities or vision impairment had access to specific events. There were some State matches for ID Bowlers, however this was only for a very limited number, and not all inclusive.

Trevor & Steve Nelson hit the green

So I had an idea, a light-bulb moment maybe. Bowlers with an ID were not able to play in competitions just for them as there were none, also those with other disabilities were all doing their own thing. Why not start an event that would include ALL disabilities, but also mainstream bowlers?

To integrate disability with mainstream should be able to work. My thoughts were that if we ran a Pairs event and had the bowler with a disability play as Skip, alongside a non-disabled bowler playing as the Lead, it should be beneficial to everyone.

Having the bowler with a disability playing in the Skip position meant they were not required to declare the head, measure bowls, or ‘kick’ bowls. This also has the disabled bowler playing the last bowls of the end, therefore limiting the possibility of the non-disabled bowler becoming the domineering player. The role of the disabled Skip is simply to bowl.

The non-disabled bowler will declare the head, measure bowls, ‘kick’ bowls and most importantly, especially for bowlers with ID, provide direction to the Skip to play the last bowls of the end. The Lead will also maintain the scorecard and scoreboard.

This new concept was discussed among attendees at squad days and with Bowls Victoria (BV) representatives. Traction was growing and this led to the first Integrated Pairs event – as the name suggests, integrating bowlers with and without disabilities in a game of lawn bowls.

2023 Winners Ben Peachey & Trevor Nelson
Bowlers in action at the 2023 Integrated Pairs

The first event was held at Brighton Bowls Club in January 2013. The format was Sectional play, 3 x games of 2-bowl Pairs, 10 x ends, with playoffs. The event was a success but with many things learned. The indoor venue and lighting created some issues, especially for the Vision Impaired bowlers. Ten ends and 2-bowl format was not suitable. This was changed to 3-bowl Pairs for the second and all subsequent events.

Berwick Bowling Club has since hosted the event for many years. Mark Walker, the club’s previous Greenkeeper, was instrumental in getting the event to Berwick. Their commitment to Para Bowls is greatly appreciated, and their army of volunteers make the days run smoothly. From the excellent greens to the clubhouse, meals and bar, nothing can be faulted.

This event has given many bowlers with disability an opportunity to participate in meaningful events. The standard of bowls is always very, very good. Over the years there have also been several different sponsors get on board, and these events are only possible with good sponsorship support. We take this opportunity to thank all the sponsors over the years.

Many of the participants rely on family and carers to attend and play bowls, with many often travelling long distances to participate. Congratulations and thank you to all parents, family, carers and supporters,

There is now an Integrated Triples event which started in 2021, and there are discussions around setting up a new Singles event. More to follow on these new developments.

We look forward to a successful 10th anniversary edition of the Integrated Pairs in January next year.

2013Phineas Meere – Malvern BCPaul Holtschke – Malvern BC
2014David Warner – Berwick BCCliff Fothergill – Berwick BC
2015Steven Nelson – Colac Lake BCMaurie Oates – Colac Lake BC
2016Luke Wayth – Queenscliff BCRichie McGovern – Queenscliff BC
2017Tony Scott – Racecourse BCLisa Critten – Lake Boga BC
2018Ross Higgins – Shepparton Park BCMax Goldsmith – Mulgrave Country Club
2019Jason Barrett – Mitcham BCJim Corcoran – Mitcham BC
2020Phillip Mahoney – Clayton BCAndrew Anagnostopolous – Clayton BC
2023Ben Peachey – Korumburra BCTrevor Nelson – Colac Lake BC

Note – event not played in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19.

Article courtesy of Trevor Nelson.