Scottish Women & Girls in Sport Week 2023 - Emma Mitchell
To celebrate Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week 2023, we are profiling a number of inspirational females that we are fortunate to have involved in bowls. First up is 19-year-old Emma Mitchell from Gilmerton Bowling Club in Midlothian.
Emma began bowling 10 years ago at Gilmerton BC as a youngster due to a number of her family members also being keen bowlers. Her dedication and competitive nature ensured she continued to progress as one of the most talented up and coming players in the Midlothian area, qualifying for the SYBA national finals on a couple of occasions.
2023 was set to be Emma’s big breakthrough year as she qualified for the Bowls Scotland National Championships for the first time in the Ladies Singles. This year’s Ladies Singles field consisted of numerous former winners and several current and former internationalists, even further heightening the feat that Emma was about to achieve.
At just 19 years of age, Emma battled her way through five straight knockout matches to be crowned the youngest ever winner of the Scottish Ladies Singles title. A run which featured an impressive quarter-final victory over former Commonwealth and World Championships medallist, Lesley Doig and a dogged semi-final win against Chloe Stewart on the live streamed rink. In the final, Emma showed calmness and experience beyond her years to defeat former winner and arguably the best female player in Scotland, Caroline Brown 21-17.
Shortly after her national title winning heroics, Emma has now moved to the United States of America to begin a football scholarship at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. Further demonstrating her talent as an all-round sports woman.
We spoke to Emma to find out more about her intriguing sports journey, balancing both a talented bowls and football career. Read the full Q&A below.
Q1. When & how did your bowls journey begin?
EM: “I started bowling around 9-years-old indoor and outdoor but had to give up indoor as it clashed with my football. My dad and two brothers are bowlers and as we live very near our bowling club, we were always around there challenging each other.”
Q2. What’s your favourite thing about bowls?
EM: “I am competitive and love the challenge, especially against my brothers. I didn’t play any club singles this year as the finals are on when I’m in America, but I enjoyed playing in the vast majority of league games with our team in the Midlothian premier league.”
Q3. How did it feel to win the Ladies National Singles title at just 19-years-old?
EM: “It took a while to sink in but winning the national singles was an amazing feeling. I would like to thank all my family, friends, Midlothian and especially my club for their support throughout.”
Q4.You have recently moved to America to begin a football scholarship. Tell us more about this and what your ambitions are?
EM: “When the opportunity came up for a football scholarship in America it was a no brainer. I played most of my career with Hibs then moved to FC Edinburgh ladies team last season where we went unbeaten in the league and won the league cup.
“I now hope to gain more experience in America for the next four years and meet new friends. I will be back for a couple months in the summer where I can continue my bowling.”
Q5. Coming back to bowls, what does the sport need to do more of to encourage young women & girls like yourself to participate?
EM: “I’m not sure if we can ever get the number of juniors back to how it was but I think clubs should be promoting more adult and junior competitions, that would give them the urge to continue and better themselves. Right now, junior bowling seems to be pushed aside and being played at unsociable hours.
“The people who put in their time and effort organising the juniors should also be given more recognition and the credit they deserve.”
A huge thanks to Emma for taking time out of her busy schedule to share more details about her background in sport. Over 16,000 women and girls currently participate in bowls throughout Scotland, if you are keen to get involved find your nearest club here: https://www.bowlsscotland.com/club-finder