By coincidence of timing, the final games of the 2021 Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel ended about an hour before the launch of a new Inter-Club Youth League, sponsored in part by the Picken Bonspiel committee and named in hour of the curling broadcast legend.
The Bob Picken Legacy Inter-Club Youth League is a pilot project of CurlManitoba involving the junior leagues at Fort Garry, Pembina, La Salle, Elmwood and Assiniboine Memorial.
In explaining the objectives of the league to the 32 young curlers assembled at Fort Garry for the first games, CurlManitoba’s Rob Gordon said the organizers want young curlers to experience curling outside their own curling club.
“Travelling to other clubs, experiencing different ice conditions, and playing against new people are all part of learning about and enjoying the sport of curling,” Gordon said.
Two teams from each junior program will participate on five different weekends with the two teams from each program playing the two teams from another club. Midway through each two hour session, the teams will swap ice in order to allow for a fresh start and to play on a different sheet of ice.
Although a slight modification in schedule will be required when the league visits La Salle’s three-sheet facility, the intent is that all the teams will play each time the teams get together.
Gordon expects that some of the teams will represent their club each time while there may be more than two teams involved in a rotation from other clubs.
At the start of the final day of play in the Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel, when told of the plans for the Inter-Club Youth League, the players competing at the Thistle Curling Club gave resounding support for this new initiative as a very appropriate way to invest some of the proceeds from the annual Bob Picken-Valour Road Masters Bonspiel at Thistle.
The Masters age curlers playing in the bonspiel recognize they are competing with and beside competitors and friends gained over a lifetime on the curling ice, playing in their own clubs and visiting other clubs for bonspiels and inter-club play. In essence, it is a ‘passing of the torch’ with the older curlers finding a way to help our youth discover the fellowship that develops through friendly competition.