20 Jun 2017
In the middle of the southern hemisphere winter, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) is organising an Olympic Day devoted to winter sports, particularly curling, in Auckland on 21 June. More than 100 schoolchildren are expected to be there, to learn the secrets of this Olympic ice sport and, who knows, discover a new vocation!
It’s winter time now, in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Invercargill, with an icy polar wind blowing over New Zealand. “For the Olympic Day we are organising on Friday 23 June, we’ve decided to do something different,” explains Rob Page, the man in charge of education within the NZOC. “This will be an Olympic Day on ice! In any case, it’s almost impossible to organise outdoor sports activities at this time of year.”
While successful at the Summer Games, the Kiwis have won only one medal at the Winter Games, Annelise Coberger’s slalom bronze in Albertville, in 1992. But the young generation is on the move, particularly with Finn Bilous, a silver (half pipe) and bronze (slopestyle) freestyle skiing medallist at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016. New Zealand’s Olympic Movement is hoping to discover and train other future champions who will make the silver fern shine on snow and ice.
So I’m hoping our schoolchildren will be interested and take up curling seriously: that’s our plan!Rob Page National Olympic Committee New Zealand
“See you at the Paradice Ice Rink in Auckland for a morning of curling, with more than 100 12 year-old schoolchildren,” says Rob Page. Volunteers and Olympians from the New Zealand Curling Association will be teaching the youngsters how to play this sport and telling them all about it. “The fact is that almost all of them have never tried curling. It’s an Olympic sport, and for us it’s also a way to promote the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in New Zealand, and create vocations for the future! As these Games will be taking place in the summer for us, there is less interest compared with the Summer Games, where New Zealand is strong. So I’m hoping our schoolchildren will be interested and take up curling seriously: that’s our plan!”
Multimedia backingAnd there’s more. A team with video equipment will be filming the morning of curling, with the aim of making this Olympic Day a tool to promote winter sports activities. “We shall be posting images on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as on our official website”, Rob Page explains. “The children who’ll be taking part in this Day are already very excited! The people who’ll be teaching them curling are, too!”
What is more, “We have also built a programme around Olympic Day on 23 June with our Olympian ambassadors, athletes capable of getting a good message across and communicating the Olympic values. They will be travelling to schools around the country and giving talks,” the NZOC’s head of education continues. “Throughout the year, Olympic races are held in all schools in New Zealand.”
In 2015, the NZOC organised Olympic Day in October, during the southern spring. “We got special permission for the occasion, to enable us to promote a large number of Summer Olympic sports, a day of discovery which led to some great vocations! That was a real success.”