On 14th March the gateball community was greatly saddened to hear of the death of one of our highly regarded ‘originals’, Clare Poole.
Clare’s involvement with gateball commenced in the mid-1990s, following visits to Sydney and demonstrations of gateball by Japanese and Korean tourists. Gateball became a regular weekly game at Clare’s club, Epping.
In 1998, following an invitation from the World Gateball Union, the Australian Croquet
Association sent two teams to the Gateball World Championship in Hawaii. Clare was a captain of one of these teams. She also attended the 1999 President’s Cup in Taiwan.
Considerable enthusiasm for the adoption of Gateball as a supported code of the ACA resulted from the Hawaii event and prompted the inaugural Australian Gateball Championship, held in 1999. Clare and her husband Ken were involved with the organisation and management of this event.
Then, in 2001, the second Australian Gateball Championship was held in Melbourne and Clare’s Epping team was among the 15 entries, which also included 3 from Peru, 2 from NZ and 6 from Japan.
From that time, Clare and a small band of players kept the gateball flame burning in NSW, until a young group of players from Canberra took up the baton in the mid 2000s. Clare’s Epping players formed the backbone of a composite team which won the NSW championship at Maitland in 2014, the first time players from Greater Sydney had won the NSW Championships.
Epping Croquet Club celebrated 20 years of gateball in Australia on Sunday 25th September 2016. With Ken’s superb catering and Clare’s smiling presence, it was a wonderful occasion.
Clare was regarded by many of us as the ‘mother’ of gateball in Australia. Her strategic understanding of the game made her a valued captain and her patient coaching skills were welcomed by new players. She was always willing to observe and make useful comments. “Low, slow and with flow – and halve your backswing!”
Even when her deteriorating mobility made active participation impossible, Clare never lost her keen interest in the game and the people who now enjoy it here. She was held in high regard by those who knew her and will be greatly missed.
If anyone wishes to share memories of Clare, please post your comments below.