The Maltese lawn bowling team has exceeded its own expectations and will bowl for bronze today. The team consists of Connie-Leigh Rixon, Sharon Callus, Rebecca Rixon and Rosemaree Rixon (mum). Picture: Adam Head
The Maltese lawn bowling team has exceeded its own expectations and will bowl for bronze today. The team consists of Connie-Leigh Rixon, Sharon Callus, Rebecca Rixon and Rosemaree Rixon (mum). Picture: Adam Head

From Nambour, let's welcome the Maltese bowls team

A DECADE ago Sunshine Coast mum Rosemaree Rixon decided to get some lawn bowls lessons because she was sick of getting beaten at the in-law's barefoot tournament each Christmas.

With nothing else to do, Rosemaree's young daughters Connie and Rebecca went with her and it's safe to say they had a good teacher.

On Monday, all three of them will playing together for a Commonwealth Games bronze medal - for Malta.

"We could never imagined it would have taken us this far," Rosemaree said.

"It's been an amazing adventure."

The Rixons, along with Melburnian Sharon Callus, will take on Canada in the bronze medal match in the women's fours, after a remarkable Commonwealth Games' run that almost saw them taking on Australia in the gold medal game.

The foursome, who are part of Malta's 25-athlete team courtesy of Maltese heritage, came to the Gold Coast having never played competitively together and hoping "to win just one game".

With Rosemaree alongside 17-year-old Rebecca and 20-year-old Connie, they won their very first game together, in a major boilover against England and they kept winning.

It's a long way from the moment Rosemaree decided to get those first lessons on the Sunshine Coast, due to the family barefoot bowls game she initially "hated" and didn't want to play in.

"They had to drag us to play. I would be arguing with my husband (Dave) because I didn't want to do it," Rixon said.

"But I am fairly competitive and I was sick of getting beat, so I decided I would go and get lessons. I asked at our local club, and the girls were always with me. So yeah, every Saturday we would turn up for free lessons. And we all got hooked."

Rosemaree, a former competitive dressage rider who would train her horses only speaking Maltese so rivals couldn't understand her commands, showed talent and so did the girls.

"The emphasis was probably more on the girls. I didn't even know juniors could compete but when I learned about all the opportunities for them, we just ran with it," Rosemaree said.

Connie began making Queensland junior age teams and after choosing to play for Malta, she won the country's first ever bowls world title when competing in the pairs at the World Youth Championships last year.

Rebecca, now a year 12 student at Siena Catholic College, is also a future star and so began the dream to play together at the Commonwealth Games.

With experienced campaigner Callus joining their team (her husband Leonard competed at the last three Commonwealth Games), the "Maltese Falcons" from Nambour made it. And they can win a bronze medal on Monday. Australia's womens foursome will compete for gold against South Africa.

"It's been unbelievable. It was just a sport to keep the kids active and interested and off the internet," Rosemaree said.

My dream was always to try and play for Malta, and they all laughed at me but the fact I can play with my daughters here at this level has just blown us all away."

Connie and Rebecca will also compete in the pairs event this week.

"We actually took our colouring pencils to Mum's lesson," Connie said.

"We never expected we would play too."



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