Physical Education - Why the sport of curling sweeps all before it

31st January 2014 at 00:00
Team GB coach promotes the game's cross-curricular benefits

To the uninitiated, it looks like an oversized game of carpet bowls on ice, with the added excitement of brooms.

But according to a Team GB paralympic coach at this year's upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the sport of curling is much more than that, claiming that it gives children the chance to take a unique approach to maths, science and other subjects.

Tony Zummack told TESS that the sport also encouraged tactical thinking, a key skill in today's job market.

He said: "The number one benefit comes from the presence of being out on the ice - the physical and cardiovascular element. Taking that side out of it, it's about science - the application of force, momentum, friction and angles."

"It's not just a physical thing, it's about tactical awareness and strategy, and the brain has to keep working all the time. What attracts kids nowadays is being able to go out and play the sport and be successful at it - that's the hook.

"The hook can't just be winning, though. I think the recreational aspect is where you have to start."

Curling officials hope that Team GB success in Sochi will lead to a flurry of interest from children and teachers. It is among the few sports at the Winter Olympics in which the UK has realistic medal chances, with the men's, women's and wheelchair teams among the favourites.

"One of the good things about curling, and one of the main benefits, is that anyone can take part," said Judith McCleary, development manager at the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

She said that because students of all ability levels could be involved, including those with disabilities, this made curling particularly attractive to schools and set it apart from other sports such as football or rugby.

The sport also fitted in particularly well with Curriculum for Excellence because of its cross-curricular potential, Ms McCleary added.

The primary schools programme "Curling's Cool" introduces small children to the sport through a series of four taster sessions. Last year, more than 5,000 P6 and P7 students from across Scotland took part.

It was hoped that once children had tried it out, they could be recruited to after-school clubs, Ms McCleary said.

In addition to all this, there is an annual schools championship, as well as a programme of certificated awards in theory and practice for children. Some senior students studying for a physical education Higher are also able to complete a Level 1 coaching course.

Bruce Crawford, chief operating officer at British Curling, told TESS: "We generally introduce children from the age of 8, when they have developed the strength, balance and coordination to be able to enjoy the game.

"Most will start curling in their teens or as adults and the fact that it is a team game helps to build relationships and communication skills."

Scotland currently has 22 curling venues. Anyone inspired to take to the ice will get a unique opportunity to do so from next month. To coincide with the Winter Olympics, taster sessions will be offered from mid-February to introduce as many people as possible to the sport. It is hoped that people who try it out might continue with training once the next season starts in the autumn.

A list of dates and information about the Try Curling sessions can be found at www.trycurling.com.

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