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NZCT has awarded the Otago Blind Indoor Bowling Club a grant of $3,000 for air travel to compete in the Blind and Visually Impaired Indoor Bowling Federation National Championships in Wellington.
Secretary of NZ Blind & Vision Impaired Indoor Bowls Federation Chris Moffitt says -
The grant will ensure our players have the chance to play against other Blind and Vision Impaired players in the only sanctioned event that BINZ holds. This event sees around eighty bowlers from around the country compete against each other for national titles. The sustainability of our club depends on our members being able to attend such events, giving them a tangible goal and raising the profile of the vision-impaired game for potential players across Aotearoa.
The confidence gained from playing at national level gives them the lift they need to showcase their skill and our version of the game. It's a great advertisement for sport to see a marginalised demographic being enabled to play in a mainstream environment and competing among their peers from around the country.
There is only one specific event for our members in which to compete on an equal level due to their impairment, so we travel three out of four years to the North Island in order to attend this event. The experience players get competing against other players from around the country can't be quantified, since the social connections they make are just as important as the sport itself.
We are one of ten Blind and Vision Impaired Indoor Bowling clubs in New Zealand. We currently have ten active playing members (six are partially sighted and four are totally blind), supported by six volunteer guides who provide verbal instructions and/or visual cues. We practice at the Blind Low Vision NZ Hall in South Dunedin every Wednesday night from April to November and compete against sighted cubs in Dunedin, both socially and in the Otago Indoor Bowls Association Competition.
Having our players attend the Nationals clearly demonstrates not only to mainstream players but also to the public at large that there are still opportunities for people with disabilities to play a competitive sport. Losing your sight doesn't mean your world ends - it just means your world changes.