Ausnew Home Care | Nearly 400 bowlers descend on Canberra for 35th anniversary edition of National Disability Championships in tenpin bowling

Nearly 400 bowlers descend on Canberra for 35th anniversary edition of National Disability Championships in tenpin bowling

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While bowling may just be a casual social outing for some, David Brown knew it would become more than just a hobby.

"I first started back in high school because it was one of the only sports I could do in a wheelchair," Mr Brown said.

He's maintained his passion over decades, travelling more than an hour from his hometown of Cooma to Canberra for coaching and league matches.

The sport has taken him across Australia to complete in tournaments, seeing places he may not have otherwise seen.

But it hasn't been without its setbacks.

Almost a decade ago, he had no choice but to put a pause on his passions and watch from the sidelines.

"I was diagnosed with a carcinoid tumour, so I had to stop for a little while," he said.

"I saw a lot of my friend's bowl and post and go to nationals or different tournaments … it was hard to actually go and watch them and not be able to do it".

A man wearing a multi-colored bowling shirt smiles.
Mr Brown has relished bowling since starting in high school.(ABC News: Jostina Basta)

More than a decade later, Mr Brown is now competing in the National Disability Championships for tenpin bowling.

He's been making the trip to Canberra weekly to gear up for the 10-day event, now representing the ACT in the state championships.

"Hopefully I'm going to bowl until the day I die," he said.

Competition built on inclusion

Mr Brown is one 380 people that have been going head-to-head this year for the annual championships, held in Canberra this year.

This year's event is the biggest since before the pandemic, and the community continues to grow each year, with the highest number of wheelchair users to date.

The championships run over 10 days, with competitors from state squads competing against each other in skill levels ranging from beginners to elite athletes.

Yesterday, Victorian Pino Mascetti scored the championships first ever perfect 300-point game.

Tenpin bowling has long held a reputation for being an inclusive sport.

Marty Sammut, the chair of the National Disability Championships, said the game is easily adaptable to any form of ability.

A man smiling, wearing a green and gold polo shirt that says 'National Disability Championships'.
Mr Sammut started volunteering with the organisation after he saw the impact bowling had on his two sons.(ABC News: Jostina Basta)

"Bowling is very inclusive, they [players] can compete against able-bodied competitors just because of the way the tenpin bowling format is," Mr Sammut said.

"We have vision impaired bowlers, we have wheelchair bowlers, and many have a restricted range of movement," he said.

Mr Sammut himself started volunteering with the organisation after he saw the impact the sport had on his two sons.

"My youngest son, he was actually a self-mute for seven years of his life. Now, he's one of the most socially interactive bowlers that we have."

A 'huge impact'

As the national event reaches its 35-year mark, Canberra is considered a top location for players.

"The beauty of the ACT is that it's quite central for people to travel, and that's why the ACT is predominantly one of our largest tournaments," Mr Sammut said.

As players represent each state and territory, some go through great lengths to compete.

"The Northern Territory team, for example, they would pay $3,000 to $4,000 in costs in travelling every single year, and that doesn't include the carers that have to come along," Mr Sammut said.

However, this doesn't stop people from coming down each year to compete, and it's not just because of a love for the sport.

"The community itself, all of these guys get that social interaction once a year through the nationals … and they always look forward to the next championships," says Mr Sammut.

A woman smiles in a bowling alley, wearing an ACT Wizards jacket.
Kyra Corsini said getting to know others in the bowling community has been a massive drawcard.(ABC News: Jostina Basta)

Kyra Corsini is also representing the ACT this year, and said her favourite thing about the championships is getting to know different people in the community.

"I have friends from different places from interstate, WA, South Australia, Tasmania" Ms Corsini said.

Ms Corsini has been bowling for a few years now, and was inspired by her mother's participation in the sport.

"[Bowling] has had a huge impact for me — you know, I've noticed I'm more relaxed," she said.


Source: ABC

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