Ten pin team on special mission need a helper

Ten Pin players Gina Matthews, Len Just, David MacKenzie, Annette Filingham and Paul Dunlop with coach Raewyn Judson in front. Photo: Pat Wakelin.

Tauranga’s Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling team is looking for another volunteer coach co-ordinator to help them realise their dream in less than 200 days at the National Summer Games.

With long-time co-ordinator Raewyn Judson retiring, the team has found one coach co-ordinator but really needs a second to provide support to the team in the lead-up to The Freemasons New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games in Hamilton.

Postponed last year due to the pandemic, this December 8-12 the pinnacle sports event for people with intellectual disabilities will go ahead with more than 1500 Special Olympics athletes and coaches set to compete.

Raewyn says the team of up to 51 bowlers practise every Saturday morning at Tenpin Tauranga on 13th Ave.

“Everybody in the team has an intellectual disability, and has to have an intellectual disability to be a Special Olympian.

“Our players come from all over Western Bay of Plenty. We start in February and play every Saturday morning at Tenpin Tauranga – if it’s available – through to December,” says Raewyn.

“We have two groups. One group is for those still mastering the sport; the other is for those with more skillset. This team plays three games each Saturday and attend tournaments and suchlike.

Raewyn has four teams from group two heading to Hamilton this December – 16 bowlers in total. With a prescribed ratio of one support person per four competitors, Raewyn needs four volunteers to attend with the team.

“That’s why a second coach co-ordinator would be so valuable. That’s the crucial part; having those people when we want to travel.”

Raewyn says a new coach co-ordinator only needs to commit time.

“You can come in cold – you don’t need to know ten pin rules. When my son started I didn’t know a thing about ten pin bowling and I learnt a helluva lot.

“We’d love to have anybody and especially men; the majority of the bowlers are men. We do have some ladies, but two-thirds are men.”

Raewyn says players range in age from 70 down to 18.

“The social interaction these people get out of the sport is tremendous. And for some that live in residential houses, this is the only outside social activity that they get to do that they choose to do – and it is physical.”

Raewyn says strong friendships have formed between players as well.

“Some bowlers have been there for 10-12 years or more.”

Raewyn says anyone interested in helping the team just needs to come along, be keen to learn, have a good attitude and enjoy being part of the activity.

“We will teach you how to help out.”

If interested, phone Raewyn on 07 549 2259 or club secretary Keryn on 0274388642. Or email: tauranga@specialolympics.org.nz

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