The kids may not have understood what they were getting into when they arrived at the Smithers Curling rink last Saturday.
They possibly had some inkling of what curling was all about but by the time they left, there was an enthusiasm to try it again.
Al Kersey of Curl BC has been working on developing youth curling programs for over 10 years, and even if a little of his enthusiasm wears off on the youngsters, there might be an influx into the sport.
For the weekend, Kersey was available to lead sessions about the sport and to give the newcomers a chance to try some of the skills that are associated with the sport.
“You have to make it fun. If it’s fun, they’ll like it and want to continue,” he said.
To that end, some of the activities were adapted to allow them to be more educational and enjoyable.
One game was an adaptation of the game of bocce. Players would roll a hockey puck down the ice and wherever it stopped, the puck would go to the middle of the sheet and become a target. Stones would be propelled down the ice and whichever team was closest was the winner.
Considering the size of the curling stones, more than a few of the youngsters had some difficulty lifting the rock, let alone following up with any kind of accurate throw. With the adapted game, more than just a small amount of fun was had by the players.
The event attracted close to 20 youngsters, so it was fortunate that Kersey had the assistance of some of the local high school age players. With a history of good performances at the provincial level, their experience was a big help to the newer players
Kersey said that in the past, Curl BC did not have anyone dedicated to work with grassroots programs, but the infusion of a generous donation specifically for the development of a youth program has made that possible.
“The Eastern Bloc countries all knew that if you looked after sport, that’s the health and wealth of your nation. North America is terribly slow to figure that one out,” said Kersey. “There has to be a collaboration between education, recreation, health and sport. Sport is always the last one to come to the table.”