Happy New Year and hope it will be another successful year!
For Bowls throughout the World, we have to drive forward on the momentum from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
I am certainly looking forward to my affiliation with Taylor Bowls this year and following in the footstep of Anne Dunwoodie. Our friendship has been solid since meeting three years ago and has put trust in my hand to take the next chapter forward.
Throughout the year, I will endeavour to cover Bowls in many ways and engage with many people along the way. First stop, the Scotland Para-Bowls elite squad are making final preparation to fly out to New Zealand for the IBC World Championship. Secondly, my personal bowling journey with my coach, Jim Irwin along with how Dumbarton BC has revitalised Para-Bowls. They certainly have many initiatives to cater for people with disabilities.
For the introduction to 2015, I have the privileged of introducing Steve Glasson the Head Coach for Bowls Australia. I first met Steve two years ago when he came to Glasgow for the 8 Nations Championships at Kelvingrove. Steve and the rest of Bowls Australia squad has been following my movement on the Glasgow 2014 ParaSports journey and were keen to meet me. Since Anne initiated the introduction, Steve and I have remained in touch.
Steve fell in love with Bowls through the traditional way of family root. Firstly, Steve was a Cricketer and Rugby League Player however his father (Bob Glasson) was a good bowler in his own right and introduced him to this great sport. Steve says “I have always loved it and although when I first started, (about 10 years old) juniors were not easily invited to play so I use to go and watch dad play and pinch all the spare bowls from other players bowls bags and play on the banks of the greens. It was in my blood so to speak and I couldn’t get enough of it!”.
Steve also recalled his childhood memory that led to an extraordinary turnaround and would earmark his Bowls career, “When I was at school, I did a week of work experience at a local bank thinking I would like to have a career in the finance industry. On the Wednesday of that week, a man entered the bank armed with a shot gun and held us up. That was the end of my banking career so then went on to do a Green Keeping apprenticeship at a local bowling club”.
Since taking up Bowls competitively, Steve has carved out a distinguished career in Bowls as a player and as a coach. His very first title of substance was winning the Qld State Junior Singles Title. Steve recalls how his father came to watch the first round and I remember him coming to me after the game and saying….. ‘Steve…. If you are going to win this, you will have to beat ‘that boy’ over there. That boy happened to be my first meeting with one of my best mates, Kelvin Kerkow. We have since been playing with and against each other for the last 30 years and have formed a fantastic friendship which includes being God Fathers to each other’s kids. I would have to say there are a couple of moments which stand out to me the most…..are my first Australian Title (Fours); winning the televised Jack Hi Singles Tournament; my first Australian cap and winning the World Singles.
As I first mentioned earlier on how I met Steve in Glasgow for the 8 Nations Bowls Championships in August 2013. Steve reflect upon that year before Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as one of the most exciting aspects of this event was the inclusion of the disability teams. We had a vision impaired team and physical impairments Triples team competing. Both did extremely well and it was a joy to have them there. For me, it was my first time coaching with elite players in these categories and I really learnt so much. In the open divisions, our boys did extremely well with 2 Golds and 2 Silvers and the overall men’s title while our girls competed well but only managed a bronze but came away with a great deal of knowledge which helped them both in preparation and performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
When I met Steve during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games it was one of the highlights alongside meeting Jim Irwin MBE. Reflecting on the success of Lawn Bowls for Bowls Australia and as a Australian Bowls Coach, Steve says “The village, the Opening ceremony, the bowls venue…. So picturesque! The hospitality of the local Scots, the weather, the performance not only of the Aussies but of so many wonderful, world class bowlers. The Scottish men certainly showed their expertise on their local greens and South Africa again came and performed at a Commonwealth Games.
As for another of Julie’s stalkers (ooops….. I mean fans) is Anne Dunwoodie. Anne had promised to introduce us and ensured that happened on one of my pre Com Games Visits. I instantly became privy to why Anne (and others) think so much of Julie. With all that said, one of the highlights was catching up with a legendary friend…. the one and only Julie McElroy. You make my day when I see that constant glow/smile on your dial and you make me feel right at home. I don’t believe they could have had a better ambassador for the games and naturally I’m delighted to know you are now taking up this great game and enjoying it! Well it sure was for me!!!
From the very first time Anne Dunwoodie introduced us, I felt very honoured and absolutely delighted to meet such as incredible person. Julie’s very personable and bubbly character draws people to her. Her exuberance for everything she gets involved with is amazing and I don’t think I have ever seen her without her trademark glowing smile. The fact we had only met on a couple of occasions prior to the Commonwealth Games….. then to meet up again….. I felt like I was catching up with someone I have known for years and years. I am also delighted to remain in touch albeit we are on opposite sides of the world and this is to me, extremely special and I love knowing what Julie is doing in her life. For such a busy person, I know she would touch the hearts of many.
In four years time, the Commonwealth Games will be held in the Gold Coast, Australia and Steve believed there is no doubt Australia has an very hard act to follow in the footsteps of Glasgow. It will obviously be vastly different taking into account the situation (right on the beach) and the climate. From a bowling perspective, the greens should prove very nice and there will lots to do available for those competing and also those coming to enjoy the spectacle and the Games itself.
Finally, I myself know Taylor Bowls well and enjoyed a long association with them which I certainly believe was mutually beneficial. Julie is so keen and passionate about everything she does and whilst only new to bowls, certainly seems to be enjoying it. Julie would represent any business with professionalism, fun and enthusiasm. I’m very confident Julie and Taylor Bowls will enjoy and very long and thoroughly enjoyable unison together and make the most out of their time together.