Delves applying unique skillset in the world of Bowls

by Domenic Favata

When you look at the sporting resume of Genevieve Delves, it’s easy to see how the Bowls-convert has excelled in the sport she’s only been playing for six years.

Prior to taking up Bowls in mid-2013, which is a story in itself, Delves had played Rugby for Australia, Soccer for Australia (at schoolgirls level), Australian Rules Football at state level (open women’s) and got down to a handicap of four in Golf, where she was also a state reserve at junior level.

Let that sink in for a second.

Clearly a naturally gifted athlete, the 40-year-old is now excelling at the elite level of Bowls, recently securing both the Australian Open Women’s Pairs (with Dawn Hayman) and Australian Indoor Championships titles in the space of 10 weeks, formally announcing herself on the scene if she hadn’t done so already.

When the National Rankings roll around next month, she will likely be ranked among the top three females in the country and also, by virtue of winning the Indoors last week, she will represent Australia (along with Men’s winner Robert Briglia – pictured below) at the 2020 World Bowls Indoor Championships in England.

Already a member of the dominant New South Wales Women’s state team, Delves is well aware that she is only beginning to scratch the surface of what could be a late-blooming, but successful career in Bowls.

“It’s been a good year. I think everything that has happened over the last 12 months has been something that’s been a slow and steady lead-up of work that I’ve put in over the last two to three years,” Delves said on Without Bias.

“By all standards, I’m probably still relatively new to the sport and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m hitting my straps now.”

Those straps were certainly hit last week when Delves swept through a decorated women’s field at the 2019 Australian Indoor Championships to collect one of the most sought-after titles in Australian Bowls.

After reaching the Semi-Finals in 2018, she managed to scrape through a few tight tussles early on in the event, before finding her groove and pitting herself against a red-hot Karen Murphy in the Final, who was gunning for her seventh Indoors trophy.

“In the build-up to the final, I’d been doing it the tough way,” she said.

“I think there was only one game early on where I got out of the blocks well and the rest of the games, got out not so well.

“I found myself in a couple of close tussles with tie breakers.”

Down 10-nil in a blink of an eye after a dominant first set from Murphy, many would have expected the one-way affair to continue and for Murphy to romp to her seventh gong.

But Delves had other ideas, honing in on all her sporting experience and presenting an incredibly calm temperament that has also seen her carve a successful professional career as both a policeman and currently, as a firefighter.

“Karen was like a tropical cyclone on her way in, there was no stopping her,” she said.

“I didn’t actually feel I was playing too badly, she was just playing exceptionally well.

“I knew with the blessing of sets-play, you’ve got that clean start.

“As soon as I was able to get the mat and change the length and maybe get her out of her comfort zone a little bit, I needed to try and revert some of the pressure she was putting on me in that first set.”

She went on to win the match 0-10 10-3 5-0 and it was that temperament, particularly in the time of adversity, that was a huge key to victory.

“I think a lot of those things, they’re really quite transferable skillsets when you work in occupations where you are in pressure situations and it’s somewhat imperative that you’re able to maintain a level of calmness and clarity,” she said.

“Most definitely with my occupation in the ‘fireys’ and prior to that I was a ‘copper’, it is something that you do learn is how to, you know, lower your heart rate, just be calm, think about things and become very task-orientated.

“For me, my task orientation [after the first set] was to win the mat and just try and get things on my terms again a little bit more.”

So how did the now Raymond Terrace product find her way into the sport?

As she explains, it was not the most conventional method that we have been grown accustomed to over the years, but it all started at the Mona Vale Bowling Club in NSW.

“It all started off with a Groupon,” she said.

“I think it was about a ‘$15 bucket of Coronas and Lawn Bowls’. It was the middle of summer and we went down there for the Coronas, and the Bowls was supplementary to that.

“I didn’t keep going back for the Coronas as such… But I had a really nasty ankle injury a few years back and I needed to find a competitive tick but also not be a liability with my work.

“I’ve always had that inclination to be drawn towards certain sports that have a fine motor skill attached to them as well.”