If you’ve been following my shenanigans, you’ll know that I’ve tried almost all of the Glasgow 2014 sports now. Some I’ve fallen completely in love with; some I’ve just fallen with. And with some sports there’s been a healthy mix of both.
Lawn bowls is one of those sports.
I’m a theoretical bowler. I understand the concepts, I love the temperament, and I even get excited by a well-maintained green. But I just can’t chase down that elusive jack. And without that, the theory is all I’m ever likely to master. It’s a pity really because I think the sport really suits me. I can wear a dress to play, for the sake of heaven; this game should be right up my, ahem, alley.
So I’ve come to terms with the undeniable fact that I’m never going to set the bowling green alight. For one thing, that would be exceptionally dangerous – and quite rude. For two, I was recently outplayed by a four-and-a-half year old, who had (unless I was being monumentally sharked) never touched a bowl before in his jolly little life.
But that’s the beauty of bowls: everyone, from the clumsy theorist to the eager pre-schooler, can play, all together, all bowling at their own level. And that’s exactly what happened this week when some of the Team 14 members descended on Woodend Bowling Club for a game. Six novices, five bloggers, four coaches, two handy-with-a-bowl podcasters, one Team Scotland para-bowls athlete, an incredibly talented 14 year-old and this uncategorisable buffoon, graced the greens to punt a few bowls and share a few chuckles.
As ever, good friends of my challenge, Woodend, put on a veritable feast of bowls for the gang, with their jaunty assault course and good-natured coaching. Okay, so it’s not Tough Mudder, but try threading a powder pink bowl across the grass, up a ramp and into a paddling pool without losing the plot, then you can talk to me about an Arctic Enema.
After tackling the Krypton Factor training session, the group was broken into teams and we all settled into a few ends of match play. Several of the Team 14-ers really found the mark with their bowls, and the club rang with shouts of ‘well played’ and ‘that’s the shot’. Of course, that was until I stepped onto the mat.
But winning isn’t everything – and for me, it isn’t anything. I just enjoyed being around good, fun people, in a perfectly friendly environment, having a go at a sport without age, gender or Paula exclusions. Whether or not I’ll ever be a champion bowler doesn’t really matter to me. My love affair with bowls isn’t a one night thing because bowls is the sport that loves you for a lifetime.