It’s fair to say bowling is Ron McArthur’s life now. The sport completely changed the Commonwealth Games coach’s outlook too.
The 67-year-old almost runs out of breath while rhyming off the list of duties he fulfils in the world of bowls and he can add another this summer when he is director to Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Since his wife Jean introduced him to the sport it has taken over his life and become an obsession.
“An addiction to replace an addiction in many ways,” Ron tells The Falkirk Herald, “I started playing bowls when I moved through to Falkirk from Motherwell and I fell in love with the game. “On July 18, I’ll be 37 years sober.”
Ron is a recovering alcoholic but it now it is his sport and coaching that dominates his life. After helping himself, he’s now helping others share in his passion. “I can get quite boring - all I talk about is bowls, but that’s because it is such a fantastic game. What else can children, parents, grandparents, and great-great grandparents play? Anyone can do it, be they young old, able or disabled or blind. It’s fantastic.”
Talking over his role in next month’s game is postponed 24hours after heavy rain forced a deluge of calls to Ron as league secretary, but at Camelon’s indoor centre, he explains how visually-impaired bowls works.
“I’m the eyes on the green, the athlete he is the brain. “We’re a team out there and this is the first time a director will get a medal as an athlete, it’s a great honour for me. The last time, 12 years ago in Manchester, it was only the player.
“This year we have two players classed in the B2/B3 categories - Irene Edgar and Robert Conway - they can see to around three metres.
“We discuss percentage bowls and use a system like a clock-face, then it’s up to the athlete to decide how to throw.”
Ron has expanded VI bowling coaching in Scotland, more than a decade after he compiled a training manual in 2003 - “There’s only 40 or so coaches out there for visually-impaired bowlers, it’s my aim to develop more.
“There is a reluctance in Scotland to do what’s called front coaching which is a guage by the player judged by the director’s voice.
“The crazy thing is it’s easier to train and coach a visually impaired person than a sighted one as they’re not distracted by their eyes and rely and concentrate on their ears. Sighted people think they’re looking at the right areas but they don’t.”
Robert who will be formally named in the squad in Stirling this morning with Irene, “doesn’t like front coaching” so Ron will work to a hybrid at Kelvingrove. His systems work. In 2009 he took 16 players to Gateshead for the UK Championshop and returned with 15 medals - none for him though.
“I was a reasonable player, but I have a talent for spotting talent and I’m patient with players. Seeing people develop their game is very satisfying, from the severely disabled bowlers who can’t hold a bowl all the way through –it’s a game for everyone and you can advance as much or as little as you could want, at your own pace .
“It’s so sociable too, it really is a sport for everyone and the Games are giving it a spotlight which can only be good for the sport and showing others the reason why I love it so much.”