Paphos resident bowls for success in Scottish championship

Linda Ryan is representing Cyprus in the World Bowls Singles Champion of Champions competition, taking place this weekend in Scotland.

Ryan came to live in Paphos in May 2005. She previously lived in the UK, where she bowled for England for four years, as a member of the indoor and outdoor associations.

A holder of 32 England caps, she is now a member of the Aliathon Bowling Club, in Kato Paphos. The flat green bowling contest in Aberdeen will see her face stiff competition, as the champion of each nation will be representing their country in the fight for the prized, ‘Champion of Champions’ title.

Ryan has held a fair few county titles, and three national titles in England, the ‘Triple Title’ the ‘Champion of Champions’ and ‘Indoor Fours’.

Fifty-six-year-old Ryan has been bowling for 30 years and says that in England it is increasingly a young person’s game. There’s been a big push for youth bowling, and there is an under-25 squad at national level.”

“It’s difficult to imagine Cyprus going down that road. I can’t see how you would entice young Cypriots to take an interest. There isn’t the razzmatazz surrounding the sport as with soccer and basketball,” she said.

“I’m aware that people mainly view bowling as a slow, old man’s game, but it isn’t like that.

Although my daughter has said in the past, she would rather watch paint dry! Having said that, she is very proud of me and comes to watch.”

Ryan’s interest in the sport started after her neighbour when she lived in Kent invited her to play.

”I put that ball in my hand, and as I tried to get as close to the small white ball, called the jack, I was absolutely hooked,” she said.

“I was a mother and part-time worker, and this was something I could do on my own, for myself. My husband didn’t bowl for ten years, but he does now. He says he brought the kids up, which I dispute,” she laughed.

“I don’t really get nervous before a match, but it does make my adrenaline pump. I want to be top of my game.”

Ryan plays in Paphos, and there are another two clubs islandwide catering for about 350 bowlers in total. Fewer than half the members are women, and Ryan is one of the youngest. In Ryan’s club there are only three Cypriot members and she said she would love to see more join.

“The social life that comes with the sport is tremendous. When my husband started bowling, it gave us both a chance to socialise together and make new friends. There are always social functions attached to these clubs, and there are always different groups of members,” she said.

According to Ryan there are different categories of players. The social bowlers will play two or three times a week and go to meet friends. And there are competitive bowlers, like Ryan, who take bowling very seriously.

“It’s important for me to win titles, and along with this comes prestige. I’m paying for my airfare to the championship in Scotland. It’s not a sport to enter for financial gain. We’ve applied to, KOA, the athletics association, and when they receive funds, they divide it up between various sports clubs,” she said. “But I’ll be out of pocket. It doesn’t matter though; as to be able to play at this level is what it’s about. It’s great.”

Ryan plays on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and she practises on Saturdays. She plays with Drakes Pride professional bowls.

“Since we moved here and my husband hasn’t been working, his bowling has improved. I’m very competitive, but he’s very laid back, so it’s never a problem between us,” She added.

For those who don’t understand the intricacies of the bowling world, Ryan explained; “Simply put, in crown green bowling you bowl from corner to corner and side to side, as long as you play over the centre, which is humped. With flat green bowling, you bowl up and down, and do this from standing on a mat .The principal is the same though. You’re still trying to hit the jack ball, which is white or yellow.”

The competition is taking place in Aberdeen, Scotland. It started yesterday and ends on September 6