Disability Sport Fife identifies bowls as one of the most inclusive sports in the Kingdom and there are many examples of success stories. Community bowling clubs throughout Fife embrace DSF members with such enthusiasm and help them on their way along the well established bowls pathway that has been in existence in Fife for many years.
The Beveridge Park BC and East Fife Indoor BC have played a significant role in supporting the DSF competition programme for over three decades. Top Fife bowlers Gary Handyside and Sam Smeaton are members of Lumphinnans BC and club members are supportive of a novice group from West Fife CSS who practice there weekly. Scottish Champion Wendy Thomson from East Fife CSS is a member of St Andrews BC and since joining she has improved immensely. The link between East Fife CSS and Windygates BC has led to an increase in the number of players with additional support needs playing the game. Fair Isle BC is the home club for several of Fife’s leading visually impaired bowlers and within less than a year of the Dovecot BC development being set up, newcomer Robert Anderson has rocketed to number four in the Fife rankings. Abbeyview BC has a well established reputation in disability bowls development and Strathmiglo BC, Burntisland BC, Cowdenbeath BC and Kinghorn BC have in membership some of the nation’s top para bowlers. Several other clubs are keen to play their part and Fife should be fiercely proud of all that it is doing to promote inclusive bowls across the Kingdom.
In the mid 70s enthusiastic Fife bowler Alex McLean from Kirkcaldy was the first person in Fife to highlight to Disability Sport Fife the possibilities in bowls for players with additional support needs. At the time Alex was the manager of Rosyth ATC. Alex and some of his bowls colleagues from the Kirkcaldy area helped DSF to organise the first Fife Lawn Bowls Championships at Lynebank Hospital in 1976. A few years later the event moved to the Beveridge Park BC where the Championships have remained to this day. At the same time Alex forged links with Headwell BC and several top bowlers soon emerged. The most exceptional has been Pamela Mitchell from Dunfermline who is the current Fife and Scottish Ladies Indoor Champion in the section for players with a learning disability.
Within the past few weeks Headwell BC, West Fife Community Support Services and DSF have come together to deliver quality coaching for novice learners at Headwell BC. A new coaching session has been established, led by club member Chris Osborne, and plans are already in place to consider footwear and equipment purchases. The enthusiastic learners are enjoying their new sport in the welcoming environment of the Headwell Club. There is undoubtedly potential within the group and maybe the 2018 Fife Indoor Championships at the East Fife indoor Club will include a contingent from West Fife CSS/Headwell BC to support Pamela Mitchell. Well done to the committee members at the Headwell Club and club member Chris Osborne in particular for being inclusive in thinking and practice.
Richard Brickley MBE – President Disability Sport Fife