Jack of all trades: Unbiased bowls tackles the Outgames
Ian Clarke from Marrickville’s Unbiased Bowls gives GNN the lowdown on the lawn bowls component of the Outgames.
Fielding a 17-strong team, Unbiased Bowls blitzed the competitors at the Asia-Pacific Outgames, scoring 17 of 24 gold medals at the event. Formed around five years ago as an inclusive bowling group, Unbiased Bowls is based in the Syndey suburb of Marrickville and is open to anyone who enjoys the sport of lawn bowls regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality or level of experience.
Unbiased member, Ian Clarke who is competing at his third Outgames in Darwin told GNN, the competition at this year’s event was extremely spirited.
“A guy from Melbourne and a guy from Perth were particularly fierce,” said Clareke. “But we’re pretty happy with our results.”
He was also pleased by the level of acceptance within the local bowling community for a gay team.
“The Darwin Outgames were great – very well organised and the Darwin Bowling Club has been very welcoming of gay people. They have a lot of gay events apparently and everything was well controlled – apart from the weather – I think we were all a little washed out by the heat at the end of three days in the hot sun.”
Clarke told GNN he wanted to compete in the Outgames to meet other gay people who played bowls and other sports, as well as enjoy a Darwin holiday.
“It seemed like a great opportunity for us all to get together.”
Previously a tenpin bowler, Clarke said the predominant difference between the two forms of bowling is in the bowling style. “I had to give up the ten pin – it was too hard on the body,” he said.
Clarke explained: “You’re carrying a 14lb ball and you have to do a run up and stop dead – whereas in lawn bowls you take one step and bowl. Both have a lot of hand-eye coordination, but one is much less traumatic on the joints.”
Despite being a tenpin bowler for close to thirty years, Clarke has taken to his new sport with relative ease. “Once you get used to how the bowl curves – you know the bowl is going to turn – once you understand that, it’s right. Its just about practice practice practice – like any other sport.”
The rise of barefoot bowls has seen a resurgence in the sport – with many young people taking an interest in lawn bowls. Clarke is happy for this influx of young blood.
"There seems to be a lot more acceptance now. There is still a lot of homophobia in the older clubs – but it’s gradually coming around. The more young people that come into the bowling clubs the more welcoming the sport will be.”