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‘Something kept me going’ - Man, 25, with Asperger’s appointed bowls president

PUBLISHED: 09:45 23 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 23 November 2019

Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.

Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.

Archant

A man with Asperger syndrome who as a child suffered bullying because he played bowls has reached the peak of the sport’s association in the county.

Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.

Matthew Sparrow, 25, was recently appointed President of the Norfolk County Bowls Association - making him its youngest ever president and one of the youngest in the UK.

But the journey has not always been smooth.

In his childhood the Acle man endured both verbal and physical abuse.

"As I kid I got bullied a lot for me being how I was, because I have Asperger's, and also for playing bowls," he said.

Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.Matthew Sparrow, 25, from Acle, is the youngest ever president of the Norfolk County Bowls Association. Picture: Courtesy of Matthew Sparrow.

He attended Acle High School - now known as Acle Academy - before going to East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston.

"Due to bullying, bus journeys were an issue," he said.

"People class bowls as an old man's game but I just continued on playing it. Nothing ever put me down.

"I never thought I don't want to do this. I got beaten many times but I never wanted to give up. Something kept me going."

Mr Sparrow's love of bowls began when he was a boy.

"My mum and dad used to bowl before I was born," he said.

"When I was young, either six or seven, I went to Friday night bowls. I gave it a go and enjoyed it."

The sport became part of the Friday night routine and when he turned 14, Mr Sparrow joined the Norfolk Federation under-25 team.

"It was an honour to play for the county," he said.

Nowadays he plays for the minor team and in early November was appointed President of the association.

"This shows if you've got Asperger's you can do anything," he said.

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"I'm the youngest president we've ever had, I believe I may be the youngest in the country.

"Don't let anything put you down. If you've got something in your heart you enjoy doing, just keep going."

During his presidency funds raised from the association's charity events will be donated to the charity Asperger's East Anglia.

"The next goal," he said, "is to be national president."


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