Mums and bubs on tour
Mother’s Day has become an extra special day in the Australian Jackaroos with Anne Johns and Claire Turley juggling the demands of the Australian National Team whilst also bringing up the beautiful Jack Johns and Ruby Turley.
Our Australian Captain Lynsey Clarke will be gathering some handy advice from the bowling mums after recently announcing she is a mum to be, expecting her bundle of joy in October.
It was new territory for the sport of bowls to have its most elite players starting a family whilst still being part of the Australian Squad and wanting to wear the green and gold.
The new challenge is indicative of the way the sport has progressed, with the average age of the current Australian Women’s Squad just 28.
Anne Johns was the pioneer that bowls needed to give hope to other women wanting to have children but also continue to chase their dreams on the bowling green.
At the 2013 Australian Sides Championships in Bendigo, a heavily pregnant Johns showed that tired feet weren’t going to stop her contributing to the NSW Blue’s winning the Marj Morris trophy and in fact said the ‘baby bump’ helped her balance.
“When I was pregnant with Jack I played up until I was 7 months pregnant. I actually felt a lot more balanced when I was pregnant; I’m not sure if this was because I was being extra careful with my delivery or having a ‘belly’ just made me more centred,” Mrs Johns said.
Earlier in her pregnancy, Johns’ powerhouse club St Johns Park had claimed the Grade one pennant flag and the State Pennant Finals were scheduled for just a few short weeks after her due date.
“Jack was only two months old when we played the State Number One Pennants and the club made sure he was a welcome addition to our time away. My employer St Johns Park Bowling Club has been very flexible with my work hours and playing bowls,” Mrs Johns said.
Juggling elite level bowls and motherhood is definitely trying at times for Johns who also works part-time.
“My husband Shaun is a great support and without him there is no way I would be able to continue with my bowls career. My mum and dad also visit from Scotland for a few months of the year which allows me to do some extra hours at work or be away for a bowls tournament, whilst Jack gets some quality time with Gran and Grandad,” Mrs Johns said.
Queensland representative Samantha Wilson recently travelled with her baby girl Savannah to the Australian Sides Championships in Perth; the smiling bundle of joy was a welcomed addition to the Queensland team.
Jack Johns and Ruby Turley are regular spectators when the New South Wales women compete and have been embraced by the ladies as part of their team.
Sustaining a career, raising a family and competing at a high level is no easy feat; however Women’s Bowls NSW have been supportive of Claire Turley and Anne Johns by allowing them to bring their children to practice and competitive events.
WBNSW spokesperson Ayla Karabulut the Communications and Events Co-ordinator spoke about the importance of supporting these young mums.
“WBNSW strongly endorse the idea that the sport of Bowls is accessible to all women. The likes of Claire Turley and Anne Johns have thoroughly displayed hard work, dedication and maintaining equilibrium – of being a young mother and an athlete – this not only enables them to still compete in the sport of Bowls but has also allowed them to preserve their form at a high standard to be selected as part of the State Team,” Ms Karabulut said.
Johns hopes other girls coming up through the bowls system can be inspired by the fact that you can be a mum and also play at an international level.
“It does require a lot of organisation and dedication but in the end it’s all worth it when you can pull on the green and gold,” Mrs Johns said.
Bowls Australia would like to wish every mum a very Happy Mother’s Day.