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90 Years of Maccabi - Meet Bronwyn Elbourne

Posted: 25-Sep-2015 by Maccabi NSW

By Leanne Shelton

Bronwyn Elbourne is the perfect example of someone who has the Maccabi blood running through their veins. She shares some of her Maccabi memories, including what happened at the very first Junior Carnival, and highlights her family's current involvement.

What was the first Junior Carnival like? 

It was exciting. We had to try out and then train for months once we were selected.  It was a great achievement to be selected as I remember always wanting to be able to go to Carnival and waiting and waiting until I was old enough to compete at Senior Carnival. So when they started the Junior Carnivals, I trained really hard to be able to get picked.   

What are your key memories?

Going to the airport and meeting our billets who we didnt know at all. I was so fortunate as my billet and got on so well and starting laughing in the car on the way home. I knew then it was going to be great. We are still friends today, we did speeches at each others 21st, have shared milestones including our weddings, birth of our children and now the achievements of our own children. A few years ago, we went to Melbourne with the swim club to compete in the Victorian Jewish Champs and our sons competed against each other.

What sports did you participate in?

Swimming, netball, and squash. In my last Senior Carnival, it was becoming less competitive and social sports were coming in, so I said I will try out Mixed Indoor Cricket. I had know idea what to do until we trained and I learnt the basis (that was very social and a great experience on its own!)

I competed in the first 3 Junior Carnivals in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne and then three Senior Carnivals in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast at Bond Uni - I think that may have been one of the last Senior Carnivals. It was great with everyone from all states staying on campus and having the sports on campus, quite different from staying in a hotel. Junior Carnival did, I think, take some of the shine out of Senior Carnivals.

Have you made any lifelong friendships from your first Carnival or Maccabi events since?

So many! My children often say to me, how do you know that person? How do you know so many people? And my answer is always the same - Maccabi, sport, carnivals, camps and just being involved with Maccabi. It's been my main social network from when I was a child to today. Through my children now playing Maccabi sports, I continue to meet new people in the Maccabi family. Just last weekend at my son’s bball game I was talking to one of the other parents about the upcoming 90 years Maccabi reunion and asked her if she played Maccabi. It was just amazing - she was from Perth and realised my billet in Perth Junior Carnival back in 1982 was her neighbour and my billets from Perth for Sydney Senior were childhood friends of hers! It's such a connection and make me both really proud and really happy to know I am part of such a strong and united sporting club that is local, national and international.  

Did you go to any Maccabiah Games?

Unfortunately not. I would have loved to but it was just not possible for my family at the time. Many of my friends did and it was so hard saying goodbye to them at the airport wishing I was with them. 

How have you stayed involved with Maccabi over the years? 

I have played netball, squash and swum with Maccabi. I also have great memories of the sport and fun camps at Narabeen Sports Centre, both as a participant and then as a leader. They are great weekend camps. We used to meet on a Friday afternoon at the old Hakoah club and get on buses for the “trek to Narebeen” we all though it was sooo far away. I laugh now at how close it is. They were a blast.

My Sundays were all Maccabi training. I would start with Sunday morning Squash Club at the old Hiscoes Courts and Crown Street and later at the City of Sydney courts in Darlinghurst, then go straight to Netball training at Heffron and the walk across the park to the Pool for club from 4pm - 6pm and then we would go out for dinner with the Swim club families.

I have been involved in the Swim Club for a number of years as a parent and committee member. This year, with two other parents we are heading up the Sydney MS Swim a thon plans taking place at Moriah Pool on Sunday 29th November 2015.  We are really hoping for a record number of swimmers and raising record funds for MS.  

Do you have kids involved with Maccabi today?  Which sports?

They have both played soccer and been involved in the Triathlon club. Their main sports now are basketball and swimming. My eldest, Jared, (who is 13) is starting to appreciate the uniqueness of Maccabi having competed in his first Junior Carnival in Melbourne in January this year and then being part of the very successful JCC team that competed in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale in August this year. He was a member of small and highly successful swim team. He has made friends in Melbourne, Dallas,   and in Philadelphia from those two experiences so far. He can’t wait for Sydney Carnival in January 2016 and has already arranged for billets he has met to stay with us. It is wonderful. It is also great when he talks about teens he as meet and we establish that I know there parents from our Carnival days. This really makes me smile and warms my heart as that is such a special bond to have from one generation to another.

My youngest (11yrs) is already planning when he can compete at Carnivals and go to a JCC and my eldest has now got his sights and goals set on competing as a Junior in swimming at Maccabiah in 2017. It is wonderful for them to have such goals and know they want to connect with other Jewish Teens from around the country and world. He learnt a lot about Maccabi the World Wide movement at JCC this year and it really opened his eyes to the amazing opportunities Maccabi offers and depth of competition around the Jewish World there is.  

Anything else that you’d like to add about the Carnival and/or Maccabi experiences you’ve had over the years? 

Honestly, Maccabi has brought me so many long term friendships and great experiences. I always say it is part of my DNA. I have always looked at Maccabi as not just a sporting club but a social connection. So many of my friendships today developed through Maccabi and through meeting people at Carnivals and Maccabi sports.  

I have always looked first at playing for Maccabi both as I was growing up and for my own children now. If Maccabi does not offer the sport, then I look at what other clubs may be available. Like a few years ago, when my youngest wanted to play AFL and NSW Maccabi does not currently offer this.

Maccabi has been part of my family for years and years - in fact my grandfather who lived in Melbourne before moving to Sydney played AFL for AJAX. For my dad, Maccabi was a big part of his life mostly in the Squash and Swimming Clubs and later in his life the Lawn Bowls Club. My brother played Soccer, Basketball, Swam and played Squash for Maccabi. And today my mum is a member of the Maccabi Lawn Bowls club and helps out in the Maccabi office.

I often talk about Carnivals and the fun they were at both the Junior and Senior events. It connects us to so many people near and far. They were truly great times for me and I will always be thankful to my parents and Maccabi for giving us all such great opportunities!

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