There’s little argument that St. Clements resident Norm Green has earned his way to the World Blind Bowls Championships in England next month: a large collection of hardware from provincial, national and international tournaments attest to that.
When he travels across the pond next week, the quality of the competition won’t come as a surprise. He’s been playing for two decades.
“When I lost my sight, like most people, you get down and you’re not sure what’s out there for you. I joined the Canadian Council for the Blind and I met a friend who had asked me if I wanted to bowl and I said, ‘why not?’ The rest is history; I went out one night a week and started bowling five nights a week.”
A work accident took most of Green’s sight in 1992, but he turned a disability into opportunity, carefully honing his bowling skills at competitions that took him to spots as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Israel.
The sport is a good fit for the visually impaired, who can use a range of techniques, descriptions and instructions from coaches to roll the ball in specific ways to reach the Jack, the white ball target that determines scoring.
“It’s actually a very sociable game, but then it can turn into a very competitive game. It’s up to you how far you want to go, and I’ve been lucky enough to make it to the worlds. I’ve done well at the international level,” he said.
After conquering competitions at both national and international levels Green will soon be rolling against top players from 10 countries as they gather for the 2013 World’s Blind Lawn Bowling Championships, which take place every four years.
“I was a little hot last year, I got on a roll last year,” he said this week.
At the B2 level he will compete against players with less than five per cent of their sight. This means he will be given some assistance from a coach. At the B1 level players are completely blind and must be directed by coaches throughout the game.
“I’ve got two long weeks over there – I’ve got 14 games,” he said.
Green attended the Australia world championships in 2009; he won bronze in his category and hopes to do better against some tough competition. He said countries like Israel and the Hong Kong region pay their players to compete, which means their athletes play the game for a living and are highly trained, but for Green competition is only one aspect of the experience.
“I make it into a vacation when I’m done. [My wife and I] go over for two weeks. When I’m done we have a vacation. Travelling that far, we feel that it’s a waste of time if you only go over for the competition,” said Green.
The tournament runs untilJuly 18.