Getting to know BQ: Colleen Ryan
Paradise Point’s Colleen Ryan has been a bowls fanatic since being introduced to the sport in 1996 by her husband Ben who took her to try bowls at Burleigh Heads Bowls Club, which was just a short walk from their house at the time.
Colleen was always a big fan of sports and had been an avid golfer in New Zealand where she had won several championships, before her and her husband retired and relocated to the Gold Coast where Colleen went on to win a few more golfing events.
Colleen had previously played indoor bowls with a family team composed of Colleen’s father, two brothers and herself where they had done well, before that she had competed in tennis, netball and table tennis.
In New Zealand, Colleen and her husband owned a key cutting and engraving business and following that she managed a security firm.
When Colleen first took up bowls, her initial coach said that they struggled to train her as she was naturally left-handed.
“My coach said they couldn’t teach a left-hander, so I said I’d play right-handed instead,” Colleen said.
“I played right-handed until I went into a squad, and they changed me back to playing left-handed, as they said it was better for me to just play naturally!”
At Burleigh, Colleen helped out in the games room for a while before moving to Club Helensvale with her husband, while at Helensvale she became a selector and later joined the district committee in 2006.
While working with the Gold Coast-Tweed District, Colleen moved from the match committee to become junior vice president of the GCTDLBA, before later becoming the senior vice and then president of the district in 2009.
Colleen was approached by Bowls Queensland to see if she would be interested in joining the match committee to help out which she obliged, she held this position for five years before taking on the role of match coordinator.
After her stint with the Bowls Queensland match committee, a position opened up on the board for BQ as a director, which is the position she holds now.
Colleen says she dedicates so much of her time to bowls because she enjoys working and meeting with bowlers from around the state.
“I like the organisational side of working with Bowls Queensland, but I really enjoy the company and the people,” Colleen says.
“The thing about sportspeople is that they are sort of a different kettle of fish and I’ve just enjoyed what I’ve been doing.”
While she enjoys the role of being a director on Bowls Queensland’s board, she says it does come with its own set of challenges.
“The biggest challenge is trying to make everyone happy, we’ve got to look after everyone,” Colleen says.
“There are big clubs and there are small clubs, but I think they should all be treated equally and I think that’s the name of the game really, it’s just about looking after one another.
“A good board member is for everyone, not just your club or district, we’ve got to look after the whole State.
“It’s all about helping the State and helping people throughout and that’s what I’ve enjoyed.
“I get quite a few phone calls from people from different districts asking for my opinion and things like that, I like meeting different people and trying to help people as much as I can.”
At Paradise Point, Colleen is an umpire as well as the club’s umpire coordinator. When it comes to volunteering, Colleen encourages others to give it a go as the sport needs volunteers to help it run.
“People need help, help them,” Colleen says. “Volunteers today are very hard to come by, but it’s rewarding to do.
“People have said to me ‘oh you’ve been doing it a long time’ and I always say you only get out of it what you put into it.
“The thing is as well, it has helped me since I lost my husband and daughter and I think it works both ways as it has given me something to do to take my mind off of things.”
Colleen says the role has given her plenty of great experiences too, and she cherishes the time she gets to spend travelling around the State and the people she meets.
“I love going into the country towns, they are my favourite places to visit,” she said.
“They’re just a totally different group of people, sportsmanship wise or whatever, I just love the country and country people, they’re just there to be friends with you and they’re there for the fun of the sport.
“It’s a different atmosphere, and they’re just fun people.”
Colleen encourages anyone who is considering putting their hand up for a volunteering role to do so as she believes they will not regret the experience.