Tara’s tattoos provide strength in Ipswich ‘family’ team
WHEN you're a highly regarded leader like Tara Bramwell, it's the extra motivation that makes a difference.
While winning for her close-knit Ipswich Flyers teammates provides weekly drive, Bramwell carries two permanent sources of added inspiration.
A tattoo on her right arm bears the name Brittany, a cousin who passed away.
On her left wrist are the symbolic words "my family is my strength".
"My family are everything to me,'' Bramwell said. "I would be lost without them.''
Sharing the importance of those messages highlights why Bramwell is such a valuable member of the Flyers side which won last year's Queensland Premier League SE Qld Cup grand final.
She has 10 years Flyers experience and always wants to encourage her teammates, along with other senior players like Emilie McInally and Erin Ellis and coach Nicole Grant.
"I really enjoy it,'' Bramwell said of being a leader.
"Both Em and Erin are very easy to work with, and I love how Nicole picks a captain from each area of the court,'' Bramwell said.
"I think it really benefits the team as a whole.
"I know I chat a lot to Bridget, Abbey, Skye etc who play similar positions to me and I know Em works with the shooters and Erin is always talking to the defence end.''
However, after their first loss of the season last week, the Flyers have to re-establish their authority to keep pace in the second stage of this year's QPL competition.
"It was a tough battle,'' Bramwell said, reflecting on the 46-42 defeat to Downey Park after three earlier victories.
"We definitely stuck it to them, but we just had a few moments where we lost control of our game, which happens.
"We can take a lot out of the game however and learn from that.
"We just left our fight right until the very end.
"It just goes to show that we need that sort of grunt for the full four quarters, but that will come.''
Preparing for Ipswich's next clash against Western Districts on Thursday night, Bramwell said last week's effort provided a timely reminder.
"That you can't take any team lightly,'' she said. "Everyone will be out to beat us.''
Bramwell said it was difficult to compare this year's season to last year's run of Flyers success.
"It's a completely different season,'' she said.
"There have been so many disruptions. People can't attend training or games if they are unwell, rounds are much shorter and we only get to play each team once.
"We have new players which means new combinations too.''
She praised Grant for her efforts developing the new players in the Flyers squad.
As for this week's opponents, Bramwell said her team hadn't seen Western Districts play due to the COVID regulations.
"We played a practice game against Wests and they were solid,'' she said.
"I think they have a lot of experience and will bring a tough game on Thursday.
"We just need to put last week's game to the back of our minds, focus on what we can improve on and bring a little bit extra to our game this week, which we all know we can do.''
Leading into the new season, Bramwell and her teammates enjoyed working with physio Ben French.
"There are a few things he notices and works with us to correct/improve, which definitely benefits our game and makes us stronger,'' she said.
Away from netball, Bramwell loves a picnic in the park with her family and pup, or a trip to the beach.
As for any pre-game rituals, she likes to make sure her polo can't come off until the team is ready to step on the court.
On the difficult question of sharing a favourite teammate, Bramwell offered two.
"I'd have to say Tahlia (Vandenberg) and Emilie (McInally),'' Bramwell said.
"I have shared so many moments on the netball court over the past 10 years and those two have been beside me every single time.
"I also spend a lot of time with the two of them outside of netball and have many good memories to look back on.''
But having shared in premiership glory last season, Bramwell said team camaraderie remained a feature of playing at the Flyers.
"It's hard not to have it with the group of girls we have, they are just so easy going,'' she said. "We all have that same goal in the end, and we all just band together and work hard to try and achieve it.
"Flyers have had it for years. It makes playing so much more enjoyable when the whole team is like a family.''
All that is reinforced by the meaningful tattoo on her wrist.
QPL SEQ Cup: Thursday (9.10pm) - Ipswich Flyers v Western Districts at the Queensland State Netball Centre