First of all I would like to thank everyone at Polegrove for all their support and friendship over the last few years to help my journey as a Visually Impaired Bowler.
You may remember that Nina posted that I was attending the Visually Impaired Bowls England National Tournament in Leamington which was held from 18 -23 June.
I must admit that I was a little (well OK, very) anxious for my first National on the hallowed greens in Leamington. We had a roll up on the Saturday afternoon which didn’t help things! The green we were allocated was like an indoor mat – it was so fast but after a few ditchers things improved.  The Sunday started with all the doubles matches and I had 3 matches throughout the day.  Then the singles matches (for me the most terrifying having never played a singles match before!) started on the Monday and concluded on the Friday all competitors playing 10 matches each.
The programme was mentally exhausting and playing against National and World-class players was extremely challenging. The stress of the competitiveness was intense – the two selectors for the National (England) team were watching all the matches.  Those that had won before or were in the top list were not giving up their places easily!
So what were my main bring homes from this amazing experience: 
1) I was so happy to have walked away by not getting 0 points in any of my matches – I did managed a high-light of taking 13 points off one of the champions!
2) the scores were not that important – the experience gained every match was more important.
3) I love singles matches! These are so focussed and challenging but immensely helpful in gaining skills.
4) I have a doubles partner going forward who is in the England Squad and will be supporting me next year in both the indoor and outdoor Nationals.
5) Made the VI Open tournament in Hastings the other week so much more enjoyable. I was 2nd in our group for the singles (said I love singles!) and 3rd in the Doubles Group.
6) Can’t wait for the next Season!
Just as a final thought – I know many players have bowled with me when the Skip acts as a “caller” to let me know what is happening at the head.  This is essential for me (or any VI bowler) so I can decide what to do.  There are a few people who have come forward to help – which I really do appreciate but more are needed.  Also, on some occasions a “director” can be used – that is someone who is next to me and explains the head and positions of the bowls. I have been lucky to have been in a match where the number 2 player has done this and was extremely successful. If there are any players who want to help please get in touch with the training/coaching team. Or just have a word with me to see what is involved first – it actually helps in reading the head and planning what shots to take. This all helps keeping our club such an inclusive place to bowl.


Original Post 10/6/23:

Huge congratulations to Steve Chamberlain who has been selected to compete at Leamington later in the year as part of the Visually Impaired Bowls England initiative (VIBE).  We wish you a very successful time Steve, enjoy the experience.