“A number of members from the Owenbeg Bowling Club got involved a few years ago and helped set it up. They have all taken training courses in the sport and are qualified coaches. There are twelve sports alotogether in the Special Olympics and we are slowly developing players in many of these.
“It as amazing that in Alpine Ski-ing, Ireland has won a gold medal and has no real winter snow. We plan to practice over the next couple of years at Craigavon artificial ski slope and have a team ready for four years time. The other sports including bocce are table tennis, equestrian, ladies and men’s soccer, golf, basketball, badminton, and aquatics, athletics, gymnastics, kayaking, bowling, and pitch and put.
‘The club has a 90% attendance which shows how much the members enjoy their bocce matches. People can come along and try it out for three weeks and if they like it they can become members. They do have to have a medical check up first before they can participate to ensure they are fit. We are always looking for new members. Hopefully by next year we will have a junior section set up.”
Frank explained that apart from the sporting end of the club, there is much fundraising to be done and on 15th April there will be a major fundraing effort outside ASDA in Downpatrick to raise funds for the Special Olympics Ireland teams.
“The organisation was set up by the late Shriver Kennedy, sister of President Kennedy. I had the pleasure to meet her before she died. Gradually Special Olympics aims to reach out to all those with intellectual disabilities and get them involved.
“The sport of bocce has seen a startling growth in interest and next year we hope to set up a league. The Ulster section has nine counties and teams will compete within this framework. The Ulster office is based in Belfast but the central office for Special Olympics Ireland is in Dublin.
“Already Down have been very successful in the Ulster bocce championships last year and won six gold, five silver and five broze medals which came back to this district. This is a tremendous achievement which we are proud of.”
If you would like further information about Special Olympics Ireland, contact the regional office at 028 90 239023
0r email email@example.com
or leave a message for Frank Donnelly at the Ballymote Centre on 028 44612311.
Check ou the website at: www.specialolympics.ie