Raising awareness of blind sport in Bay of Plenty

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Darryl Perry will be taking part in the blind bowling that is part of this weekend's Blind Sports Festival. PHOTO/John Borren
Darryl Perry will be taking part in the blind bowling that is part of this weekend's Blind Sports Festival. PHOTO/John Borren

Getting the word out will hopefully lead to greater participation in the second Blind Sports Festival to be hosted in Tauranga this weekend.

''We did it once last year and it was the first time we'd done it and we struggled to get the word out there so there wasn't all that many people present,'' said Bay of Plenty Blind Sports Club president Steph Jobson. ''But we've had a few more people interested this year.''

As with last year's festival, there will be three sports played: football, bowls, cricket. Unlike last year, when the bowls were indoors, lawn bowls will be played at Club Mount Maunganui. There will be directors on hand to coach and guide the competitors.

Ms Jobson said there is a core group of members who will have go at all three sports, and others who might try just one.

''Traditionally, the cricket is more popular, but the blind bowls; we've had a lot of people keen to give that a go.

''And Blind Sport New Zealand are in behind the football this year so we've got the proper equipment and proper rules and we really want to get that one up and going because it will be quite good for young people.''

The football will be played at the Mount Sports Centre. There will be four outfield players, all wearing blindfolds, plus a sighted or vision-impaired goalkeeper and the ball is audible.

The club had hoped to play the cricket at Bay Oval, but the amount of rain in recent weeks has put paid to the plan, so the cricket is to be held on one of the Blake Park pitches.

For the game, players are split into three categories ranging from totally blind to 6/20 vision. Blind cricket is played with an audible ball and only under-arm bowling is allowed. Metal wickets mean everyone can hear when someone has been bowled or run out.

Ms Jobson said the weekend festival is designed to raise awareness that, although people may be sight-impaired, they can still be active and involved in sport with a few adaptations.

Schedule:
Today. Blind football, Mount Sports Stadium, cnr Maunganui and Hull roads. 9am-noon.
Today. Blind bowls. Club Mount Maunganui, 45 Kawaka Street. 1pm-5pm.
Tomorrow. Blind cricket. Blake Park, starting 9am.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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