The 3rd Lion City Cup Lawn Bowls Championships took place on 30 March at the Kallang Lawn Bowls Green. (Photo by VoxSports)
Scattered across the carpeted floor of a small green lawn were what appeared to be miniature bowling balls of varying sizes and colours.
A humble and little known sport, lawn bowling has been around in Singapore for almost 20 years – an existence unfamiliar to many.
The concept of this sport is simple. Bowlers are required to roll a ball called a ‘bowl’ to get it as near as possible to another ball, known as a ‘jack’, at the opposite end of the lawn. The position of the jack is determined by whichever team that wins the former game.
However, there is a trick to this game. The bowls are biased, as they are weighted on a particular side. The bowler therefore has to gauge the extent of the bowl’s change in direction to get it close enough to the jack. At the end of each set of bowls, the player with the nearer bowl scores a point against his or her opponent.
To a spectator, lawn bowling may be perceived as a mundane repetition of rolling balls across a green, carpeted floor. To a player, it is a constant test of their focus, adaptability and tenacity.
Bowls Singapore bowler of the year, Shermeen Lim, shared with us her thoughts from her years of experience in competitive bowling.
The 25-year-old began her journey in Catholic Junior College (CJC), where lawn bowling was a co-curricular activity. After being introduced to competitive bowling in Singapore Cricket Club two years later, she never turned back.
“This game is very dynamic, no end is ever the same. You always have a choice what you want to play, what you want to do, and it’s always up to your skills and whether you can achieve it,” Lim commented.
In both local and overseas Lawn Bowling competitions, Lim has made a name for herself and for Singapore, bringing about a growing recognition of the sport locally.
Some of these tournaments included the World Junior Cup, where she took home a bronze medal, as well as the ASEAN University Games, where she and her teammate clinched two gold medals.
Her teammate, Melvin Tan echoed her sentiments. He added that they “never got bored” of the game through their numerous years of experience.
“It provides us with different strategic perceptions on how to play the game, because we don’t play everything to a standard set of playing styles. So we have to change our style to the conditions of the green, as well as the weather elements… It’s an ever changing game,” he said.
Both Lim and Tan competed in the finals of the 3rd Lion City Cup Lawn Bowls Championships on 30 March at Kallang Lawn Bowls Green, which brought together players from all over Asia.
In a heated final round, Singapore emerged as champion in the Plate section, while the team from China took home the victory in the Cup section.
The tournament was not only for veterans of the sport, it also saw some newer, younger players. Hong Kong’s youth developmental team qualified for the semi finals, and gained much experience from the exposure.
Team member Aaron Khoo, 20, commented: “It’s always a kind of recognition to be chosen to play. We also have to better prepare ourselves for the game, and it is also a strong motivation to improve… this is a game which is very exciting.”
Being one of the least physically taxing sports around, Lawn Bowling is an ideal activity for both the young and old. With all these young people competing at such a high level, mastering the sport is definitely an achievable feat as long as the player puts his or her mind to it.
Bowls Singapore and Singapore Cricket Club have also opened up many opportunities for young people to get a feel of the sport.
“We have been talking to NIE (National Institute of Education) to actually use Lawn Bowling in PE (physical education),” explained Vice-President of Bowls Singapore, Francis Khoo.
He also recounted several outreach programmes in Greendale Secondary and St. Gabriel’s Secondary where Lawn Bowling was taught, and turned out to be an outlet of expression for the young people there.
A handful of youths actively return to Kallang Lawn Bowls Green to bowl every week, as well as to other indoor venues in Singapore. These places are also open to the public who wish to pick up the sport.
With Glasgow 2014 featuring a number of current World Champions, this sport is definitely something to look out for at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Event highlights (Photo by VoxSports):