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Comox Valley curling centre’s specialized league for women offers opportunities to play and socialize

Just over two months ago, the Canadian women’s and men’s curling team took home gold at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Just a few short weeks later, Paralympic wheelchair curler Sonja Gaudet was named flag bearer representing Canadian athletes at the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games.

At an Olympic and Paralympic level, curling is a sport that focuses on competition and victory. But through the eyes of the Ladies Afternoon Social Curling League, the sport of curling offers much more.
 

Comox Valley Curling Club offers specialized programming with a chance to socialize and mingle

Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley region is a recreational paradise for the outdoor explorer. During the summer months there are many opportunities to get out golfing, hiking and swimming, for example. However, like many parts of B.C., once winter sets in so does the rainy, stormy weather that often keeps us indoors.  
The Ladies Afternoon Social League LOVE to curl!

The Comox Valley Curling Club noticed this trend in their sport: many of the ladies liked to play during the winter but preferred to get active outdoors during the summer months. As a result of the significant drop in summer participation, the Secretary of the Comox Valley Curling Centre, Amber Dufour, came up with an idea to introduce a new league that would cater specifically to this group.

The Ladies Afternoon Social League was offered for the first time to ladies aged 55+ last September through December, running only half of the regular season during the cold fall and winter months. In addition, the games were tailored to the new or recreational curler, reducing game times from eight ends (2 hours) to six ends (1.5 hours) in length and leaving time at the end of each game for some social time over snacks, refreshments, trivia and other fun activities. The program also offers special adaptations for those that may be facing any physical limitations (eg. knee injuries or Arthritis) - something that often comes with age.

With inclusion and participation at the forefront of importance for the group, the Ladies Afternoon Social League takes the focus away from just winning and losing. And after only one short season, there was such an overwhelming response to this type of programming that members demanded a second program to run through the rest of Winter from January to March, 2014.  
 

Comox Valley Curling Centre receives grant funding to enhance 2014 season

In need of financial support to run this second program, the Ladies Afternoon Social League applied for funding through FAB (Forever Active Bodies) 55+, a grant administered by viaSport. As a result, they were one of three programs that were selected to receive up to $2,000 provided to groups committed to creating more opportunities for senior women to get more active through sport participation.

“By providing us with funding for instructors and required materials, viaSport has enabled the organizers to put forth the best possible program for participants,” says Amber. “The ladies in this age group are excited to have a sport that seems tailor-made for their needs, also supporting those with limitations. They’ve also indicated they will continue in the sport due to the structure and format of our league.”

The FAB 55+ grant is founded by ProMOTION Plus in partnership with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).  Funding is provided through the Government of Canada and the Province of BC through the BC Sport Participation Program (BCSPP).
 

Comox Valley promotes sport opportunities to residents in region, encouraging life-long participation

Comox Valley is a region that spans across a number of communities and rural areas. Being over an hour drive from Nanaimo and over two hours from Victoria, the Comox Valley Curling Centre hopes to offer a service to the ladies of Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland and the other surrounding rural areas that may have previously been limited to the larger cities. By reaching out through newspaper advertisements, open houses, newcomer programs, registration info sessions and more, the program aims to target as many ladies in the region as possible.

Beyond making new friends, it is also the hope of program organizers that the FAB 55+ social league participants will go on to join other leagues such as the bi-weekly senior social league, dedicated women’s league, mixed and open leagues or simply re-join the FAB 55+ program each new season it is offered. Beyond curling, the club also encourages the ladies to socialize beyond the ice by trying out golf, kayaking, hiking or one of the many other sports available in the Comox Valley.

The Ladies Afternoon Social League is a great example of how a sport can reach people of all ages, all abilities, and can be played at all levels of ability—from the community ice rink to the Olympic stage.
 

For further questions about the Ladies Afternoon Social League, please contact Amber Dufour ataldufour@shaw.ca

For more feature stories by viaSport visit our website or follow us on Twitter @ViaSport_ #InspireViaSport

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