BARRA ISLANDERS WIN DISABLED INTER-ISLAND COMPETITION
Linacleat Sports Halls, Saturday 27th September
was stirred in those passing by the entrance to
Linacleat Sports Hall on Saturday 27th September. Brief
silences, heavy with implied concentration, were
regularly interrupted by what sounded like a convoy of
Dinky Toys traveling from one side of the venue to the
other. The spirit of inquiry could only be satisfied by
peeking in through the open doors.
who’s curiosity got the better of them, and there were
many, saw three targets at one side of the hall. Whilst
on the other side were the thirty plus disabled people
and their carers. All taking part in the first
inter-island competition organised by the Lewis based
organisation Western Isles Disability Sports. The sport
in question being New Age Kurling.
This is a
disabled friendly version of one of Scotland’s oldest
sporting pastimes. One which, despite the lack of ice,
has retained all the nuances and requisite skills of
it’s ice bound progenitor. At any one time, during the
morning session, at least six of the gathered sportsmen
and women fixed their gaze intently upon the targets and
let go of their light stones which were borne on their
way by ball bearings.
Competitors had been practising and honing their
abilities since WIDS had provided them with the
equipment in 2002 and were drawn from Lewis, the Uists
and Barra. They were all intent on winning the medals
and team shield. So no quarter was given and the play
was of the very best, with stones being gently placed as
blockers and others fired to defeat an opponent.
The event fulfilled the organisers’ aims to bring
meaningful sporting pastimes within the grasp of the
disabled of our island chain. Gordon Thomas, the
Chairman of WIDS stated that, “This is exactly what we
have been aiming at since the organisation was founded
and to see so many here all trying their level best to
win is extremely gratifying.”
the best represented island, producing the majority of
the players taking part but Lewis was also well
represented, as were the Uists. However, it was obvious
from an early stage in the competition that the Barra
team had an edge over both of them. Nobody was too
concerned about that, virtually all the competitors
expressed the view that it was simply having the
opportunity to take part in a sporting pastime that
Whittaker of Uist had two daughters playing for the
Youth Medals, Laura and Casey. Sibling rivalry was
raging with both girls playing some very complex ends.
One minute Laura would be in the ascendant and the next
Casey would, seemingly, have the upper hand. This match
was one which drew the attention and a sporting audience
from other competitors. Laura, who does not usually gain
the upper hand, ended the three set match as victor and
delight flooded her face as she received her medal.
Whittaker said afterwards, “It’s our first time in real
competition and it is fantastic to see this come about.
Laura will not be forgetting her win over Casey for a
very long time.”
the adult players, the two who contested the final were
also very evenly matched and it was a thrilling game on
the most difficult rink of the three which were set up.
Angela McLeod from Barra was matched against Oliver
Matravers, currently staying Garrabost and acting as
carer for his disabled Uncle, Mike Feehan.
outcome of the match was not clear as each player took
the lead and then lost it again. Hardly a word was
spoken in the hall as each contestant took their turn
with furrowed brows witnessing their concentration.
scheduled end of the match honours were still even and a
sudden death play off was required to decide who would
be the victor. Fittingly the Barra based player emerged
as the winner with a splendidly placed stone which drew
cheers from her fellow islanders and the other team
also fitting that the Team Shield also went to Barra and
will be retained until next year when both the Lewis and
Uist teams have sworn to do their level best to wrench
it from them.
Singles Champion said, “It’s good that people of all
ages and abilities can compete on a level playing field
and enjoy a sport such as this. Today has seen everybody
enjoying themselves in good natured rivalry. Who would
have thought that this would be possible a year or so