Meet Andrew Newell, Jamaica’s Pioneering Lawn Bowler

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Andrew Newell holding the KNCC Caribbean Championship trophy

It is no secret that Jamaica is a sporting nation. Our athletes have dominated track and field for several decades; our national football teams show occasional flashes of brilliance; our cricketers have made outstanding contributions to the West Indies team; our netballers are among the best in the world; Alia Atkinson is currently the queen of the pool, and who can forget our bobsleigh team? Speaking of the bobsledders, did you know that we have been represented at the Winter Olympics in skiing and now have an ice hockey team? So, what’s next? If Andrew Newell has his way, it will be lawn bowls.

The sport of bowls or lawn bowls originated in England in the 12th or 13th century. The objective is to roll biased balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a ‘jack or ‘kitty.’ It is played on a bowling green which may be flat (flat green bowls) or convex or uneven (crown green bowls). It is usually an outdoor sport, but there are indoor greens in many of the 51 countries that make up the World Bowls Organisation (WBO). The outdoor surface is either natural grass or artificial turf. Check out this highlights video from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Newell, who was born in London, is the offspring of Jamaican parents from St Elizabeth and Clarendon. Having a few local (UK) finals and titles under his belt, he was keen to represent Jamaica on an international level until he found out that due to the lack of a national governing body for the sport, he can’t do so as a member of the WBO. In typical Jamaican fashion, he set out to help establish the sport locally, and saw the first step of his dream realised in December of 2015, with the opening of Jamaica’s first ever lawn bowls green at the Bluefield Bay Resort in Westmoreland. Below is our interview with him:

How long have you been playing lawn bowls and how did you become interested in the sport? I have been playing lawn bowls for over 10 years now. In the UK, lawn bowls is played quite a lot and can be watched in local parks as most have bowls greens in them. It was a sport I would watch in the summer when walking in the park. Lawn bowls was also shown a lot more on TV back when I was younger.

What have been some of your biggest accomplishments in the sport since then? Since playing, I have won a few club competitions. Due to reaching the final of a borough (parish) competition final, I am now qualified to represent my borough in lawn bowls matches. The biggest achievement in my playing career to date is winning the first KNCC Caribbean Championship, which was held in July of 2015. I beat Walter Williams [another Jamaican lawn bowler] in a tie-break final. The KNCC was created by me and was simply named after my late father – the Kermit Newell Challenge Cup. The whole event was filmed to be then aired on TVJ as a short series.