Daphne Shaw is a true lawn bowls pioneer, paving the way for women to play at the elite level alongside men.
Her list of achievements in the sport is only surpassed by the time and dedication Daphne spends giving back.
From Commonwealth Games gold to pennants at her beloved Club North Haven, commentating for ABC TV and coaching the next generation of elite bowlers, there’s not many aspects of the game Daphne hasn’t been involved in.
Most recently, Daphne was made part of the Bowls NSW Hall of Fame. At Kirribilli Club on February 22 Bowls NSW honoured the sport’s top achievers for 2016.
Daphne was one of three women inducted into the hall of fame at the awards, which acknowledges both achievements in playing lawn bowls and boosting the sport’s prominence in the community.
“I’ve accepted the honour for the recognition it brings to the sport and to the Camden Haven,” Daphne said.
Daphne began playing lawn bowls in 1977 at North Haven. She represented the state for 13 years and Australia for nine years. She has five Australian and nine NSW titles to her name for singles, pairs, triples and fours.
In 1990 Daphne earned a gold medal with the Australian Women’s fours team at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland. She has earned gold, silver and bronze at world championships, and gold and bronze at the Pacific Games.
In 1992 Daphne partnered Cameron Curtis and won the Qantas International Jetabout Pairs and defended the title a year later when partnering with English legend David Bryant.
“David Bryant is the ‘Don Bradman’ of bowls,” Daphne said.
“When we were drawn as partners I was gobsmacked and was so nervous I could barley speak. It was an incredible experience to play and learn form him.”
In 1992 and 1993 Daphne played her way into the final of the Jack-Hi International, which was the first televised lawn bowls competition where women played against men.
“It was the first chance to show women that we can compete against men. In the first year of the Jack-Hi tournament it was men only, then in the second and third years women were involved.”
Daphne was the first woman to make the semi finals of the competition in 1993. From that time on, at elite bowls tournaments around Australia, women competed in each section with men.
“In this sport, women have the same ammunition as men,” Daphne said.
“When I played the men used to say, ‘Oh Daphne’s one of the boys’ which I took as a compliment, to be seen as a competitor and not solely as a token woman. I wanted men and women to meld and become a community of bowlers.”
Off the greens Daphne has earned a number of awards including the Hastings Sportsperson of the Year in 1991, an Australia Day Award in the same year for lawn bowls, the Australian Sports Medal in 1993 and in 2011 she was inducted into the Australian Lawn Bowls Hall of Fame.
She was a torch bearer at the 2000 Olympic Games and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Her influence on the game has extended to future generations of sportswomen. Daphne was the coach, manager and selector for the NSW Junior Girls Bowls for seven years, she spent two years managing the Bowls NSW Women’s team and seven years commentating on the sport for the ABC.
Local school children have benefited from her guidance on the greens with coaching and in assembly talks where they get to see her gold medal.
Daphne has also volunteered to be involved in the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast.