A SCOTTISH sportsman is appealing for funding to help get his enormously heavy balls to the Middle East.
Brian Gillespie from Glenrothes, Fife, has been selected as part of the Scotland team to participate at the tenpin bowling World Championships in Doha, Qatar, later this year.
But with no help to cover the cost of transporting his 60kg balls, the 24-year-old has been forced to launch a fundraising campaign to raise money for flights, hotels and kit.
His GoFundMe page has so far raised £460, some way short of the £1,500 he reckons he will need if he is to make it to the championships.
Mr Gillespie has to fork out much more than usual in baggage allowances because he takes eight balls, each weighing 7kg (15.4lbs).
Whilst travelling to other tournaments, the former Scottish number one has had to pay more than treble to normal ticket price to cover the cost of extra hold baggage.
Mr Gillespie admits that it can be a “nerve-wracking” experience flying separately from his balls and recalls one occasion when he arrived at a tournament and realised several had been lost.
He said: “It’s the bowling balls that make it most difficult to travel. You look at the flights and then remember you need to add another 60kg of weight to what it would usually cost. That’s what adds to the cost really.
“I’ll probably take eight balls which each weigh 7kg. Obviously I have to pay to add the extra baggage. For example, flying to a competition in Ireland recently, the flights were going to be £30 but as soon as I added my bowling balls, it shot up to £100.
“When I travel, I just pay for extra hold luggage. This is a little nerve racking as one time I was away with the Scotland team and only two of my eight balls arrived at the destination which meant I had to pay more to replace them when I was there.”
Mr Gillespie is one of four Scots who have been selected to compete for the country at this year’s World Championships in December.
The Scottish Tenpin Bowling Association cover his entry fee for the tournament but don’t have the financial clout to be able to pay for each player’s trip.
He expects to be in Doha for ten days whilst the competition takes place, meaning money will be needed not only for hotels and flights but also for travel and food whist he’s there.
And it’s not just travelling to and from tournaments where the costs can rack up, with practice and equipment adding extensively to Mr Gillespie’s yearly bowling bill.
He continued: “This will be my first World Singles Championship and i’m trying to raise money so that I can make it over to them in Doha.
“You’re talking about needing at least £1500 to cover it all. The Scottish Association pay my entry fee but because it’s a small association and we have no sponsor, they don’t have the money to pay for my hotel and flights.
“Some countries will pay for their players. Places like the US, Sweden and Finland, where it’s big, they’ll pay.
“Bowling balls can cost up to £200 each. I usually purchase about four bowling balls every year because of the advances in technology and I take six to eight with me to tournaments.
“I also practice about 9 ninegames per week, so every week I payout about £40 just to practice.
“I think you will start seeing that a sponsor would be greatly beneficial to me, as when you put all these goings together I must easily spend around £5000 per year to bowl.”
To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/frtjyv3g