Curling gets cool

(From left) Equatorial Curling Club committee members Choh Teck Wer, Somerton Sio and Ng Wai Mun

The Winter Olympics in Sochi is over, but fans of curling can still get their fill of the sport in sunny Singapore.

The Equatorial Curling Club (ECC) has been keeping the winter sport alive in our tropical climes.

The sport involves sliding stones over ice towards a target area. Said Mr Somerton Sio, 25, president of the ECC:"It is unique to be able to play winter sports in Singapore. So we hope this club can help to raise awareness of the sport."

Mr Sio, a contractor with aircraft financing company CIT Aerospace, started curling in 2006, when his schoolmate invited him for a session in the United States.

HOOKED

He got hooked on the sport, which got its name from the way the stone "curls" as it travels across the ice, and joined the ECC when he returned to Singapore in 2009.

Curling, which originated in Scotland 500 years ago, is gaining fans here. The club is made up of five committee members and has no official membership now, but it does see about 16 people turn up for its monthly practice sessions at The Rink at Jcube in Jurong.

Just a year ago, only a handful showed up for each session.

Said Mr Sio: "The number (of people) for the sessions has been increasing recently, and it's a good mix of locals and expats." Mr Ronald Popeski, 55, a journalist and the only Canadian in the ECC committee, said the number, though, was encouraging.

"It's hard to draw attention to an ice sport in a tropical country. But we're grateful for the publicity for curling from the recent Sochi Olympics," said Mr Popeski, who has curled since he was 11 years old.

Once a month, the ECC conducts curling sessions in which members of the public are invited to try the sport. The sessions, which are now capped at 16 participants as there are not enough people to teach the sport, are promoted on its Facebook page.

EXOTIC

One curling regular, software engineer Ng Wai Mun, 33, joined an ECC session back in 2007 and is now part of its committee. "I thought it was pretty silly at first, but I was curious. I continued playing because I think it's exotic to play a winter sport in a hot country," he said.

"I don't usually excel in sports. But I like curling because it's about your technique and not so much about your speed, strength or fitness. "Curling is also a gentleman's sport. It's a friendly game and players practise good curling etiquette."

Mr Popeski hopes that more Singaporeans will take up the sport, adding: "Anyone can curl. There are no boundaries to age, sex or even fitness. Even families can form a curling team.

"All you need is balance, endurance and strategy. It's like chess on ice."

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