Getting to know Joan

by jgrey on June 9, 2020

The umpire committee’s Joan Brotherton is one of the hardworking volunteers that keep Bowls Queensland on track, her depth of knowledge on the laws of the sport is respected both around the state and internationally.

Before Joan began bowling, she became an avid golfer after she was introduced to the sport at the age of eight by her father Cecile West who was a New South Wales golf champion, Joan went on to win numerous golfing tournaments.

In 1969 her husband suggested that they should try bowls, being a fan of sport Joan decided to give it a go and they were put in contact with champion New South Wales bowler Albert Newton.

“In those days you had to undergo 12 hours of professional coaching before you were able to join the club and play on the green,” Joan says.

“It consisted of a total of six hours of on the green coaching and six hours off the green inside the clubhouse learning about etiquette, the laws and the technical aspects of the sport which were broken down into one- hour classes.”

Joan says even though modern bowlers may think that the etiquette lessons were archaic, she enjoyed them and liked that it was more formal.

“There used to be someone with a ruler by the door to the green to make sure that your skirt was the correct length!” Joan said.

After the coaching sessions, Joan joined Corinthian Bowls Club and became hooked on the sport, as her husband was a teacher this meant she had to move frequently but no matter where she went she always joined the local bowls club.

She moved from Corinthian to Ingleburn bowls club and relocated to the Northern Territory where Joan was hired as the secretary for the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory where she assisted the minister and helped out

at the local newspaper in Tennant Creek and became a member of the bowls club.

She then eventually moved to Queensland in 1984 and tried to become a member of Mermaid Beach Bowls Club with her husband, but they were told that they would have to join the long waiting list to become a member.

Joan spent a few more years in Queensland and was
a member of the QLBA for five years while she held a number of positions at Victoria Point Bowls Club, Joan eventually moved interstate once again.

She finally settled back in Queensland in 2005 and became a member of Cleveland Bowls Club and now holds the position of secretary on the women’s committee.

Joan says her love of the sport comes from the fact she has always been competitive, she also enjoys the camaraderie of fellow bowlers as well as the fact that bowls is a precision sport which is all about being consistent.

Joan has been an umpire since 1996 and was finally accredited as an International Technical Official (ITO) in 2009, her accreditation and expertise as an umpire enabled her to work overseas at top-level events.

In 2010 she was selected to be an umpire at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, she helped manage a team of officials and she said it was incredibly exciting as it was her first time outside of Australia, Joan has also been an official for a number of the Asia Pacific Championships and national events.

As an umpire for BQ Joan has several responsibilities, she meets with the rest of the umpire committee once a month to discuss questions from around the state and advise bowlers on decisions.

“We also help run seminars for umpires around the state, set up discussion groups, conduct demos on measuring and present courses,” Joan says.

“We also assess umpires and provide feedback on their assessments.”

Joan says the toughest part of her job is making sure she is always up-to-date on the laws of the game and she spends a lot of time reviewing the decisions made by World Bowls and understanding their explanation on the questions that have been asked from around the world.

“I want to make sure I know the answers and want to ensure that I’ve got the right answers for people, the job is about trying to help as many people as possible,” Joan says.

“The amount of work that is involved can take up a lot of time, but I’ve always been a workaholic and really like being able to help people.”

Joan says she gets a lot out of the role and enjoys her work and the people she works with not just in the committee but around the state and abroad.

“We have a really good committee and we get along well,” she says.

Joan encourages others to volunteer for umpiring positions at any level.

“Even if you don’t pursue umpiring any further you can still learn a lot about the rules of the game which will help you regardless,” Joan says.

“I got into umpiring later in life and I couldn’t have imagined the opportunities it has given me, I would really recommend it as it can open a lot of doors to unique experiences.”