The Inter Island Sports Event 2003
The first Inter Island Sports Event was made possible through the sponsorship of

Lewis and Harris Sports Council
Uist and Barra Sports Council
Royal Mail Ready Willing & Able For Sport.


Linacleat Sports Halls, Saturday 27th September 2003

Curiosity 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.

Those 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.”

Barra was 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 counted most.

Joan 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.

Mrs 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.”

Amongst 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.

Again the 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.

At the 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 spectators.

It was 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.

The 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 ago".




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