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Bowls In Focus : March April 2010
20 Bowls In Focus T O The 19 year old Keilor star is a thoughtful and open interviewee, but almost every response is punctuated with a nervous giggle. She gives the impression of being very sure about herself and unsure where she's going, but really enjoying the ride and excited about this sporting panorama that has suddenly, unexpectedly opened in front of her. Maybe it's because I'm a cynical old hack, but I'm always charmed by youngsters who seem genuinely surprised by their success and utterly uncertain about where life will take them. Well, where Carla's going (or gone by the time you read this article) is to New Zealand as part of the Australian Under-25 team for the annual Trans- Tasman combat. And she was completely stunned by the call-up to wear the green and gold colours in battle. "I never really expected to be playing in the Trans-Tasman. I just got a phone call and I had no idea it was coming. "When the call came I was in a work meeting and I didn't know the number so I didn't answer it. I had a couple of missed calls the next day while I was at uni and when eventually I answered it was pretty much 'Do you want to play for Australia?' and I said 'Yes'," Odgers said. She feels her elevation to the national ranks has been an amazing rush. "No way did I think I'd get this far. Especially my rise, I've only been playing a few years," Carla said. Carla followed older sister Kristie onto the rinks five years ago, with her father David helping her get a handle on things. "When Kristie went up to the junior nationals, we always went up with her. Eventually I started play- ing instead of just watching." And when Carla stepped onto the slick greens at Birkenhead Bowls Club in Auckland, her family was there to cheer her international introduction. "My sister was very happy when I made the Trans-Tasman. The first thing she did was jump on the internet and started booking flights to come over to watch. They'll all coming over." And does having them all watching every inch of every bowl put any pressure on Carla: "I hope I do well since they've come all the way over to another country. I better put in a good effort for them, I reckon," Carla answered with that infectious giggle. And the trainee nurse is excited about crossing The Ditch to tangle with those Kiwis. "I can't wait to play in New Zealand. We were just over there for a practice camp. We had four days practising on the greens. I really can't wait now because we had a great time. "The New Zealand greens are really different. It's this weedy stuff, but really fast really true kind of greens. And yeah, I like fast greens. So different to Victoria: my first few bowls were definitely in the ditch," she giggled, naturally. Odgers is one year into a three-year nursing course at Australian Catholic University, and she I really hope I can fit bowls and a career in when I finish uni. At this stage I really don't know where I'll end up. "At the moment I'm very keen on the bowls and while I'm doing well and get- ting the opportunities and enjoying it I'm definitely going to stick with it no matter what." When asked about that tough future decision when setting life priorities in order of importance, Odgers was extremely candid: "At the moment I don't want to think too hard about that." At the moment her No.1 priority is bowls and her main ambitions are bowls related. "Hopefully one day I'll make the Australian senior side. I wouldn't mind one day playing at the Commonwealth Games or a world championship. That's my goal, to eventu- ally get there. "I'll take it as it comes, because I never really expected to be playing in the Trans-Tasman. I don't know what's coming, but I'll give it my best shot while I have the opportunity," she said. Carla has trouble convincing friends about her sporting pursuits, but she has a firm support network minding her back. "Most people think bowls is just old people in white clothes. Usually I have to explain that young people can play lawn bowls. "Everyone at Keilor is very supportive. My dad used to play there and they have known me since I was a young girl. "I would not have played bowls if I didn't have family involved - it's not something like going 'I'm going to try lawn bowls'," she said. Her family has been her most important founda- tion, with dad David her initial coach and mentor. Otherwise she's formulated her own game. "Chris Jardine used to help me out a lot. He did a lot with me and my game, so I guess he's probably been the biggest influence on my style of game." Once again Carla is an example of achieving sporting success from being the baby sibling in the family Odgers. "I'm the youngest in the family, so I've always had to keep up with the two older ones. We played a lot of sport. My sister is a couple of years older than me and I always played in her age group. I always tried to keep up with what the older ones were doing," she said. I know this may sound like a hackneyed old cliché, but Carla really can be cast as the quiet achiever. She has a breathtakingly simple philoso- phy about herself: 'I go about my business quietly'. Good on you, girl. - Peter Gerty There might be something quite special on the horizon for this young achiever, as Victorians all over hope things will go... Carla's Way • Above: Keilor's Carla Odgers, a fresh face in the big time. • Left:: Carla on international debut in New Zealand.
Bowls In Focus May 2010