Hit the lawn, jack

Bowling club secretary Bob Belam explains how visually-impaired people can now enjoy the sport locally

VI bowling

Vision-impaired bowling in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow

This month Walthamstow Borough Bowling Club (WBBC) will be launching a project in Lloyd Park aimed at enabling local people living with sight loss to take up and play an adapted version of bowls.

Thanks to funding and support from Motivate East, a London 2012 Olympic Games legacy project, alongside training and guidance from vision-impaired charities East London Vision and Metro Blind Sport, people from across East London can experience this sport in a supportive and friendly setting.

Waltham Forest Community Transport is providing a pick-up and drop-off service to the park in Walthamstow, removing another barrier to active participation for blind and partially-sighted Londoners.

According to the sporting body Visually Impaired Bowls England (VIBE), there are more than 50 clubs around the country supporting over 600 blind and partially-sighted people to play and compete in this sport. London only has two such clubs, and we will be the first located in the east of the capital.

We are delighted to be able to offer another inclusive bowling opportunity here at our club, and it is a really exciting and inspiring project to be part of.

As with all vision-impaired sports there are adaptations required to make this sport accessible. Ian Francis, a sports development officer at charity Metro Blind Sport, explains: “Blind and partially-sighted bowlers rely on good communication with their ‘spotters’ and use a ‘clock face’ principle to explain the position of a ‘wood’ in relation to the jack.

“Once the jack has been rolled it is placed on a centre string running the full length of the rink, this distance is then called to all players.

“Spotters then call the wood positions, for example, ‘three feet from the jack at 12 o’clock’, to create a mental picture for the bowler. They also act as guides for players when moving around the rink and often before and after matches.

“Without clubs such as WBBC delivering these inclusive opportunities it is extremely challenging to provide truly accessible sport, we all really value their support.”

If you are vision-impaired or know someone who is, you are welcome to join us for the launch of vision-impaired bowling in Walthamstow on Thursday 26th May, from 2pm until 5.30pm, at Lloyd Park bowling green in Forest Road. A nearby meeting point can be arranged if you require assistance.

If you would like to take part in vision-impaired bowling in Walthamstow:

Email hassan.khan@pocklington-trust.org.uk

Call Hassan on 0203 6946 464

To find out more about vision-impaired sporting opportunities:

Visit www.metroblindsport.org

For more information on sports for disabled people in East London:

Visit www.motivateeast.co.uk