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Jamaica lawn bowls team set to realise Commonwealth dream

READY: Team Jamaica will compete in the Commonwealth Games

THE COMMONWEALTH Games are upon us and I’ll be following the lawn bowls with great interest.

Why? Because Jamaica make their debut in the sport – as a direct result of a Voice of Sport reader’s vision and determination.

Andrew Newell reached out to me just over four years ago. He wanted to get more coverage of lawn bowls across the sports media.

He felt it was a fantastic sport that so many had access to, through their local parks, but the game’s image – as being for “old” folk – was putting people off. He wanted to help attract younger
players and encourage those from the black community to get involved.

The south Londoner, told me about how he planned to take Jamaica to the Commonwealth Games – and after a few more conversations he invited me to try the sport myself. So I did. And much to my surprise... I loved it! Just a few weeks later I found myself in the Jamaica strip playing against Pakistan and a selection of some of the best players in the UK at the Glasgow Games Lawn Bowls venue.

Suffice to say, I didn’t leave that tournament with a medal – but after only narrowly losing on a number of occasions I could see the Jamaica team would not look out of place on a global stage.

I returned to writing and making television and Andrew got back to making his lawn bowls dream a reality. He reached out to everyone and anyone who could help him get Jamaica to the Commonwealth Games in Australia. He was relentless.

And through hard work, determination and perseverance he has delivered.

So when he and team mate Mervyn Edwards – a veteran of the sport from Birmingham – step out onto the greens of the Gold Coast, please take inspiration from the Jamaica Lawn Bowls story regardless of how the results go.

Also, know that this is a sport for everyone – and I am delighted to add that on eve- ry occasion I’ve played – the clubs and people involved in lawn bowls could not have been more welcoming or helpful. Give it a go – who knows, you may even find yourself at the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Leon Mann is a journalist and broadcaster.

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