Based at the Paradice Avondale Ice Rink, Auckland Curling Club is the largest one in New Zealand. For over 20 years, the club has promoted curling as a sport for both adults and schools.
Curling has a long and proud tradition in New Zealand. First introduced by Scottish migrants in the nineteenth century, curling involves sliding a stone down a 50-metre sheet of ice towards a set of rings with a button at the centre. The stone that lands closest to the button is the winner. It sounds simple but involves great skill, strategy and stamina.
‘We are a fun and friendly club,’ declares Auckland Curling Club’s President Rhys Greensill. According to Rhys, club members come in all abilities, from newbies to seasoned veterans. The club even boasts several New Zealand and World champions. Founding member Lorne De Pape was in the New Zealand men’s curling team for 11 years and competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Auckland Curling is keen to develop the younger generation of players and, since 2003, has hosted a secondary school competition. ‘The competition attracts teams from mainly West Auckland schools such as Massey High School, Mount Roskill Grammar School and Lynfield College,’ says Rhys.
The competition runs in terms two and three, and this year saw a record 20 school teams participating. The sport is popular among boys and girls. However, Rhys estimates that around 65% of participants are girls.
‘Curling attracts tamariki that are not particularly sporty or active, and for approximately half of our students, this is the only sport they play,’ reports Rhys. Keeping young people engaged in sports as they hit their teenage years is an ongoing struggle. And Rhys says it's great to have so many girls involved as the drop-off for young women participating in sports is incredibly high.
‘Curling helps build teamwork skills and improves individual physical aspects such as balance and core strength of those participating,’ says Rhys.
Auckland Curling Club aims to keep the cost of the school competition as low as possible. However, hiring the ice rink is a considerable cost. Thanks to $6,800 from the Your West Support Fund, the club expanded the school competition to two sessions on a Thursday night. This meant teams could play every week rather than every other week, as was previously the case.
‘The help of the Your West Support Fund meant that more kids from lower decile schools could participate,’ says Rhys. He adds that the funding helped subsidise ice costs, fund more coaches and attract more schools.
The curling season runs over the winter, and club nights are on Sunday evenings at Paradice Avondale. The season starts with have-a-go sessions in April, so if you want to try this fun sport, follow the club on Facebook for all the latest updates.