Curling Federation unveils historic rink at Giftland Mall

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By Avenash Ramzan

History was created on Tuesday morning when the Giftland Mall became home to the first-ever Curling rink in Guyana, South America and the Caribbean.

At a simple unveiling ceremony, officials of the Guyana Curling Federation, accompanied by the High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana Pierre Giroux and representatives of Rock Solid Productions Inc. were on hand to speak about the potential for the sport in Guyana.

The synthetic rink

The artificial rink, which was created by Rock Solid Productions Inc., is located in the cafeteria area and is open to members of the public. According to officials of the company, this ‘iceless’ rink is made of high-density synthetic material.

General Secretary of the recently formed Guyana Curling Federation, Rayad Husain, said the project is currently in its introductory phase. This will be followed by structured competitions with the aim of Guyana qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Key officials! From left: Canadain High Commissioner to Guyana Pierre Giroux, Guyana Curling Federation President and General Secretary K.A. Juman Yassin and Rayad Husain and President of Rock Solid Productions Inc., Chad McMullan

The hope is to have Guyana qualify in the Mixed Doubles category, with Husain and his sister Farzana Husain being the most likely candidates, as they are active players on the Canadian circuit.

“In terms of development for Guyana we’d like to bring another form- Floor Curling- within the next couple of years to introduce it to schools and young children so that they can participate in the sport, and basically give everyone a flavour of what Curling is all about and use it as an alternative to keep everyone healthy and active in Guyana,” Husain told News Room Sport.

High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana Pierre Giroux tries his hand at Curling

The Guyana Curling Federation was formed in June 2016 with Guyana Olympic Association head K.A. Juman Yassin being elected to serve as president. According to Husain, most of the executives are based in Canada, while the other local executive in Guyana besides Yassin is Sam Barakat.

In September 2016, the local federation became affiliated to the World Curling Federation under Conditional Member status. Following a one-year period, the next step would be to apply for Provisional Member status, Husain explained.

“Our goal with this Federation is to kind of break the ice with Winter sport. Obviously in Guyana and in a lot of the Caribbean countries there is not any ice rink or any sort of traditional Winter sport to play so by introducing this non-ice version it helps to educate the public on what Winter sport is all about and what Curling is all about,” Husain reasoned.

He added, “In terms of long-terms we may bring different forms of this kind of sport- we have Floor Curling as I mentioned- and just introduce them step by step. It’s going to be a long process; we’re not looking at a massive interest because obviously people need to be educated about it first. So this is a good first step and we will all take feedback back home to our Federation and plan for the future on how we can further educate the society on Curling.”

Since Curling is a Winter sport predominantly played on ice, there is the issue of local athletes being at a disadvantage in terms of training and qualifying for major tournaments.

In the interim, Husain pointed out that himself and Farzana have access to top facilities in Canada, which would aid their qualification and preparation for world events. However, systems would have to be put in place to ensure local players are afforded the same opportunities, he stated.

“With the support of the World Curling Federation, local athletes might have access to funding to participate in camps up in Canada or in Europe to help develop their niche. But as I said it’s very limiting in the Caribbean to practice Winter sport in general- there is no ice rink or access to those kind of facilities. So at the moment it’s going to be a more North American, European approach to find athletes that can compete and can practice the sport on ice, but obviously if there’s interest in Guyana we’ll definitely be open to looking at opportunities to get those interested parties to come up and practice up there,” Husain related.

Also present at the launch was President of Rock Solid Productions Inc., Chad McMullan, who stated that the rink installed at the Giftland Mall is the first such model in South America and the Caribbean.

It is a synthetic version, according to McMullan, who read a brief statement from president of the World Curling Federation, Kate Caithness. 

“It is always exciting to see new members introduce the sport to their country, and on behalf of the World Curling Federation we sincerely hope that this is the start of something special in Guyana. I’m sure in a short time we will see your teams competing at our championships and that there will be a thriving Curling scene in Guyana. Big dreams start with small steps and people with amazing ideas. Today are your first small steps- or stones- good luck and good Curling,” the message read.

WHAT IS CURLING?

Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles.  

Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game 

Points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones.

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