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April 29, 2019

Merrisa Wills, getting ready for the National Blind Bowlers’ Tour

Catching Merrisa Wills for a chat about her upcoming trip to a national sports competition proved a little problematic – she is a very busy lady.

But I snatched a quick conversation with her as she was preparing for the National Blind Bowlers’ Tour, an annual tournament being held in Perth from 30 April to 8 May. RSL LifeCare is sponsoring parts of her trip to help her achieve her dream of winning a national title.

“there is always someone worse off, you have to move ahead.”

It won’t be easy as there are 20 competitors from NSW alone. Merrisa has a determination that holds her in good stead for bowling, and for life. “You’ve got to have the fire in your belly and the want to win,” she said.

Merrisa moved from Lidcombe to the RSL ANZAC Village at Narrabeen in April 2018, moving into Colooli Retirement Living to be closer to her mother, Merril Taylor, who also lives in the Village in Dardanelles. She loves living in Colooli. Everyone who visits tells her she has great views, but Merrisa can only imagine them. She lost her sight almost 30 years ago in a car accident. She doesn’t dwell on the loss saying, “there is always someone worse off, you have to move ahead.”

“You’ve got to have the fire in your belly and the want to win,”

Merrisa started playing bowls three years ago. “I started playing as a time filler but was soon hooked on it. I took my partner this week and now he’s hooked too!” Merrisa said. “We play normal games of bowls at Avalon, which has a grass green.”

Sight impaired players need a ‘director’ who advise of the distance the bowl needs to proceed and if the ‘jack’ (the target bowl which all other bowls need to be played toward) needs to be moved. The director indicates the direction, but the bowler needs to choose the velocity and choose whether to play forehand or backhand. “You can’t see other people’s bowls, so you just have to do your best all the time,” Merrisa said. “As soon as the bowl leaves your hand you know where it is going.”

In Perth she will be teamed with other players, whom she may or may not know.

She returns on Mothers’ Day, hopefully with some medals around her neck.

Story by Liz McDougall

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