Mapleton’s Paul encourages everyone to give bowls a go

by bqmedia

Paul Carson was a fit young man who loved the outdoors, until his life changed dramatically after sustaining a spinal cord injury.

In July 2003, Paul had a workplace accident, which meant spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. With his career in concrete construction and his personal life in pieces, Paul found himself searching for meaningful employment and new interests.

Work Cover proposed retraining him for office work, but a 9-5 desk job was not the right solution for a number of reasons and his search continued.

Paul threw himself into sport and travel, while also accepting the opportunity to be a workplace safety presenter for Paraplegics Benefit Fund (PBF). Paul’s ability to connect with people and tell his story has had immeasurable impact in workplaces across Australia.

Paul’s foray into wheelchair sport began in 2005 when he joined the Sunshine Coast Spinners Basketball team. He played with the Spinners for eight years and served as club president during that time.

In the years that followed, he also tackled tennis, hand cycling and outrigger canoeing. In 2014, he was chosen to participate in the World Outrigger Canoe Sprint Championships in Rio de Janeiro. Paul’s passion for travel continued after his accident, starting with the purchase of a VW Trike and a tour of the eastern states of Australia.

After travelling to 20 countries including Borneo, Vietnam, Cuba, Peru, Brazil and Chile, Paul found many of these countries under-equipped for disability access, but he was never fazed. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, it was language and not stairs that proved to be the biggest challenge.

Back at home on the Sunshine Coast, a chance meeting with a fellow chair basketballer in Mooloolaba sparked Paul’s next passion – lawn bowls.

A few coaching sessions and games of bowls later and Paul was on his way. Mooloolaba was a little far to travel for regular bowls, so when a colleague invited him to Mapleton Bowls Club, just up the road from home, he decided to check it out.

As soon as he had wheeled himself up the ramp and through the door, Paul was immediately taken with the warmth and country style hospitality of the club.

It was no trouble for members of the club to put together a ramp for easy access to the green, and to provide storage space for Paul’s bowls wheel-chair.

It didn’t take long before Paul was playing pennants in the green and white Mapleton colours (Sunshine Coast Men’s District). He also played in the 2022 Multi Disability State Championship held in Chermside where he competed in the B5/B6 disability classification. Currently he is playing in the Bowler’s Paradise Hinterland Local League.

Paul says most clubs have a ramp, and everyone is great with helping set it up. If clubs are considering getting a new ramp, he recommends a light-weight fibreglass model that folds up and can be easily carried.

It was while he was out playing, talking to other bowlers, and setting himself up with gear, that Paul could see the need for a bowls shop to serve the hinterland and northern regions of the Sunshine Coast.

With a lot of determination, and a little help from a family friend who had some contacts, he opened The Bowls Shop in Yandina. Paul continues to enjoy his bowls and would like to encourage anyone,
with or without a disability, to give it a go.

Contributed by Penny Shaw

Paul in action during the 2022 Multi Disability State Championships