In an exciting addition to the Summerset National Singles and Pairs, this year’s event will see the inclusion of disabled and visually impaired disciplines, reflecting the inclusiveness of the sport on the big stage.
Earlier this year, Bowls New Zealand announced the addition of the Parajacks to the televised Bowls3Five competition to start later this month, an ideal opportunity to showcase some of the country’s greatest disabled bowlers – several of whom competed at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year.
The Nationals’ format will offer a singles and pairs discipline for all three segments of the sport, with the able-bodied, disabled and visually impaired all having the opportunity to compete in their own respective categories in a bid to win a national title.
However, such is the competitiveness of New Zealand’s para bowls scene, many of those eligible to play in the disabled section will likely be out in force in the main event too – something Commonwealth Games silver medallist Bruce Wakefield says will be “business as usual”.
“I know personally, and for a lot of the disabled bowlers, we’ll be playing all four disciplines, so it will be a full on seven days.
“It’s been absolutely phenomenal over the last two to three years with Bowls NZ, there’s been a lot more hands on and direct communication with disabled bowls and to have something like this finally introduced to the able bodied nationals, with everyone there, is brilliant.”
Wakefield praised Bowls NZ for taking the initiative – pointing out the event will be crucial for those seeking selection for next year’s World Bowls Championships.
“For Bowls NZ to take the lead and invite these disciplines is an amazing coup for disabled bowls. Our membership is growing every year and these sort of events will only strengthen this,” Wakefield said.
“We’re aiming to be one of the strongest countries in the world for disabled bowls, and by having these events and opportunities available will only strengthen our chances to do so.”
Echoing Wakefield’s comments, Bowls New Zealand chief executive Mark Cameron believes the added disciplines highlights the sport’s inclusiveness and provides a prime opportunity for some of the elite disabled bowlers to signal their intentions for further honours.
“Along with the Parajacks joining this year’s televised Bowls3Five competition, the Summerset Nationals will be a great occasion to see some of the country’s best go head to head in any discipline they choose to compete in.
“We’re a sport that is very much about inclusiveness and including these disciplines in what is one of the calendar’s top profile events sends a very strong message about inclusivity in the sport sector, and we believe that bowls can lead the way in that messaging.”
Wakefield himself has recruited well, teaming up with former national representative Snow Reardon to take on the Disabled Pairs and lining-up with Bowls New Zealand Coach of the Year Graeme Rees in the Open Pairs.
The 2020 Summerset Nationals will take place in Christchurch from January 2 to January 8, 2020.
Entries are now open in all disciplines and close November 20.
by Sam Morton