Q&A with Wodonga Bowling Club’s Kylie Whitehead

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

In December 2018, inspirational Indigenous Australian bowler Kylie Whitehead represented Victoria in her 100th state game (against Tasmania), having earlier in the year won the Women’s Singles Champion of Champions event as well as an Australian Singles Title.

So far in 2019, the 24-year-old has been selected to play in the Victoria vs South Australia Interstate Test Series held at Moama Bowls Club, with her Victorian Lightning (women’s team) winning the event and retaining the Mulga Cup. In April she will be competing at the National Sides Championships with her Victorian teammates.

Kylie continues to forge her impressive bowls career on the greens while making great strides as a practising physiotherapist away from the greens. Bowls Victoria spoke to the young star about her love of the sport and her experiences as a young female bowls champion.

How does the bowls community compare to other sports or activities you have been part of in your life?

I used to be a competitive swimmer, so bowls is a lot more enjoyable, particularly because of the fact that you don’t have to get up at 5am every morning to go training – I definitely don’t miss that. And you can’t really injure yourself seriously like netball, which I have also played. The bowls community is a lot more widespread too, as you can meet people not only from other states, but other countries too.

During your junior bowls education, how did your Bowls Club and its members embrace you?

Wodonga Bowling Club was very welcoming and supportive of me from the beginning, and it is a big reason why I have stayed at the club since then. All the members have always encouraged me and sent me supportive messages and it is a great club to be a part of.

And as you developed into a competitive bowler, how was the support from your club, teammates, family and friends, etc?

The support is amazing, from club level all the way up. It was amazing to read all the messages I received when I won my National Title. My Grandma has always been my biggest supporter and she follows me around to nearly all my bowls games, and I definitely could not have achieved what I have without her support.

What makes bowls a great option for women?

People of any ability can play bowls, and it’s inclusive for anyone no matter your background. It’s such a great way of making friends and socialising as well as being physically active. My message to all women, including other young Indigenous women like me, is to give bowls a go! You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

What does it take to get involved in bowls at a local club?

It doesn’t take much at all, I just went down to a ‘come and try’ day and developed from there. Bowls clubs are so welcoming, and most bowlers know that young people are the future of the sport, so are really supportive and encouraging to keep them bowling and watch them progress into the sport, so women should feel completely relaxed about getting involved.

What do you think about VicHealth’s This Girl Can campaign?

This Girl Can is a great initiative, and I love that it encourages girls to be active and believe in themselves.