A group of new Canadians had never set foot on a curling sheet before Saturday.
They’re taking part in the “Learn to Curl” program put on by Global Gathering Place (GGP) at the Granite Curling Club in Saskatoon.
Eric Zhang, who was a participant, came from China to Canada five months ago. He said he was excited for the chance to learn curling and discovered it was “totally different” from what he saw on television.
“When I saw on TV, I thought so easy to push (the rocks), but when I do it (it’s) so difficult,” Zhang said.
There were a few slips and slides along the way, but before long the group had the basics under their belt.
“My favourite part is the coach, (who) teaches me how to do all of the things, because I’m so interested in all the instruction he gave us,” Zhang said.
In total, the participants will go to six classes in the coming weeks to learn the fundamentals of the sport.
GGP organizes activities, like the Learn to Curl program, in order to help immigrants and refugees integrate and thrive in Canadian society.
“It will offer them something to do over the cold winter months, making sure they’re not isolated at home and really improve fitness and community connections. They’re learning a new sport, meeting new friends, and practicing vocabulary,” GGP program manager Afton Tolley said.
Grade 10 student Azwa Alam has lived in Canada for seven months and she first heard about curling when her school hosted tryouts, but at the time she didn’t know how to play.
“I’ll probably be confident enough to try out for my next year’s curling team in high school,” Alam said.
“By having it here in this safe, supportive, learning environment and giving them the confidence they need, they are able to then sign up on additional activities on their own,” Tolley said.