Great feet for Cancer

There may have been a few frozen feet on Freedom Day but as anyone of the more than 20 000 people who turned out to set a world record for CANSA will tell you, it was all worth it.

 The event, organised and promoted by Bowls SA, proved to be a success in spite of the weather around the country. The chilly and wet conditions might have discouraged a few people from kicking off their shoes but it didn’t dampen the spirits of those participating. Early estimates seem to suggest that around R200 000 has been raised and Bowls SA will be donating all of it to CANSA and Disability Bowls.

 The statistics from the day are still being audited but Rob Zimmermann, the event organiser, is confident that they have set a record of close to 500 000 bowls delivered in the hour, more than double than what was needed.

 Morningside Country Club, the headquarters for the day, had close to 300 people of all races, ages and abilities on the green alongside cancer survivor and former radio host, Jeremy Mansfield. The club delivered around 9 600 bowls in the hour but it was the smaller clubs that really impressed Zimmermann. “We’ve had great results from the big centres like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town but it’s been particularly heartening to receive messages and photos from the bowls clubs in small, isolated areas who’ve roped in their communities to support the cause,” said Zimmermann, “setting the record and raising the money for CANSA and Disability Bowls was one thing but the day was really about bringing people together and that’s been the biggest success.”

 The day also offered an opportunity for members of the public to get a feel for the game so often associated with retirees. Debra Ferguson, president of Bowls SA believes it may even have brought in some new, young converts. “I think the day really broke the shackles on bowls and gave people a chance to see that it’s not about rules and regalia but about having a good, relaxing time with friends and colleagues of any age,” said Ferguson, adding that, “although it can be played in a highly competitive manner it’s also the type of sport where one can just pitch up any time of the week and unwind. And you don’t need to be good at it to enjoy it. At some clubs we had 9 year olds playing alongside 84 year olds, which just shows how accessible the sport is.”

 The results may still be coming in but if the main purpose of the day was to bring South Africans together then the event can already be considered a success, which has inspired Bowls SA to follow on from the event next year. “The Barefoot Bowls concept will continue throughout the year in the form of tournaments and business leagues,” said Zimmermann “and come this time next year, we’ll be able to make the event even bigger.”

 You can keep up to date with Barefoot Bowls events by following them on

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