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Stef Branfield 

Somerset star Stef Branfield will compete in the 2024 BIIBC Women's International series at Falcon IBC.

It's been four years since the 31-year-old last represented her country on the indoor stage and Stef is ready for the challenge and looking forward to pulling on the England shirt once more.

She said: "It feels great to be back in the England team and I'm really looking forward to playing in these highly competitive matches.
"2019 was the last time I played, although I was reserve in 2020 but didn't get a game.
"I'm most looking forward to what I know will be some tight games and seeing friends and team mates again."

Stef has been bowling since the age of 12, following both her parents and grandparents into the game. Her father Pip was an England international from 1979 until 1991, played for England in the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and managed England teams for many years.
"It was inevitable I took up the game," said Stef.
"The fact that I'm still playing now, 22 years on, says it all! I love the sport and the competition, and you learn something new all the time.
"I try to keep playing regularly and when I have a big event coming up I will try to find a good rhythm before travelling and practice anything that might not be going quite as well at the time.
"Indoors is great to find consistency, but personally I prefer the outdoor game, as it is more challenging with weather and different conditions."

In Stef's mind, the way to promote bowls to more girls and women is to appeal to people who already play a sport or have played previously.
"I think we need to promote to people are potentially getting to the end of competing in that sport, i.e. tennis, football, rugby etc," she added.
"I find it is hard to get women 'hooked' on bowls if they haven't really played a sport before. The other way is through families, so if their son or daughter take it up, they will hopefully become involved that way."

Stef has had a whirlwind couple of years. In 2021 she won two Bowls England National titles, the blue riband singles followed by the Women's Two Wood Singles, beating England teammate Katherine Hawes 16-10 in the final.
She also reached the final of the Champion of Champions.
Stef and pairs partner Laura Holden, who were finalists of the EIBA Women's Pairs during the 2019/20 season which was played in 2021 due to Covid, lost in the semi-final of the competition.

The following year Stef was selected to play for England in the European Bowls Championships, where she won both the singles and the pairs titles with Laura Holden plus Team Gold.
Last year Stef won the Bowls England Women's Singles for the second time, defeating Jayne Christie in the final.

"These achievements are such a highlight for me," Stef said.
"I never would I have thought I'd win two in the same year. Bowls has been my life for a long time and I'm glad to have finally achieved it. There's always work you can do to get there.
"After being in five semi-finals it is great to finally get over the line and almost complete a treble in one year.
"The European Championships was a great event to play in and playing against some of the top players from other countries was a brilliant experience.
"Winning the singles twice in three years is beyond belief. It is hard to win it once, let alone win it again in quick succession. It's an unbelievable achievement and one I didn't think was possible. I am hoping to compete at the World Champion of Champions again in November in New Zealand, and look forward to playing against some of the best in the world and enjoy the experience again, and hopefully do well.
"My aim now is to make the Commonwealth Games and World Championship teams, and to continue winning more national titles."

Sian Honnor.

We'd love to know what bowls means to you, get in touch at info@eiba.co.uk

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March 2024

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