New Age Kurling: Accessible Sports for Everyone
Wednesday, 5 April 2017 | Eugene
Few things have the ability to bring people together the way that sports do. When playing sports, we encounter unique opportunities to make friends and build camaraderie that can be hard to come by in other areas of life. Sports are also great for our health, as they allow us to gain exercise, and have fun while doing it. That's why it's so important that, as a society, we provide access to sports to as many people as possible with, ideally, no exceptions.
An Accessible Sport for All Players
That's where New Age Kurling comes in. It all started in 2000 when the company's founder John Bennett was asked by his son to create a game that everyone could play together, including the disabled. He thought long and hard, and while watching the Curling World Championship on television he was hit by an idea. He thought that if he could make an indoor version of curling, eliminating the element of ice to get rid of injury hazards, he could maintain the fun and competition of the sport while making it accessible to all people.
As Bennett began to look into the minutia of creating his new sport, he needed a way to transform traditional curling stones into ones that would work on an indoor surface. From there, he came up with the idea of using a discus-type stone with a handle and ball bearing to allow it to slide along the floor. To make the game as accessible as possible, he developed pushers and ramps, allowing people of all abilities and sizes to launch the stones with enough accuracy and power to propel them to their desired target. After that, it was just a matter of creating vinyl mats to work as targets, and New Age Kurling was born.
Since then, New Age Kurling has grown in leaps and bounds, and has been used in hospitals as part of rehabilitation programs. Since it doesn't require any physical fitness to participate, the sport is perfect for these purposes, as it pushes players to exercise muscles they would not normally use. This allows those recovering from injury, as well as the disabled, to build muscle and maintain their range of motion to speed up their rehabilitation process. Working in tandem with Disability Sport England and local authorities, Bennett is striving to encourage even more people to take up the sport, as the benefits speak for themselves.
Bringing People Together
Perhaps the best part of New Age Kurling is its proclivity to allow people from all walks of life to compete on an even playing field. While the sport was designed for the disabled and injured, it has become popular with the able-bodied as well, building competition and friendships between those where they would not have blossomed otherwise. As more people came on board, new variations of the game were created, including Kurling Kroquet and Kurling Golf. Years on from its founding, the sport is now played all over the world in 52 countries, with both national and international competitions growing in popularity every year. In the coming years, Bennett hopes to make New Age Kurling a fully certified Paralympic sport, helping it to reach even more people.
From Kurling to Boccia
After their development of New Age Kurling, John Bennett and his company have ventured into other sports that can be played by people of all abilities. One of these such sports is boccia, an increasingly popular Paralympic sport based on the traditional game of bocce. Originally designed to be played by those with cerebral palsy, but now open to a wider range of disabilities, this sport is played by individuals, pairs or teams of three, aiming to throw their leather balls as close as they can to a target ball, called a jack. Teams throw their balls in turn until all are thrown, at which point the winner of the round gains one point for each ball closer to the jack than their opponent's ball.
After learning of the fun of boccia and its rapidly exploding popularity, the New Age team decided to get involved. They now offer their own Boccia Set, also available with pushers for greater accessibility. Even more impressive is their Sensory Sound Boccia Set, allowing those with visual impairments to take part in the fun. This set consists of a regulation boccia set with a bell inside, allowing for aural location of the balls and accurate shots by all players. Keeping to their commitment to accessibility, this set is available with pushers as well.
And Everything in Between
The success with these sports led to the development and involvement in plenty of other sports, with a focus on accessibility for all. The New Age roster includes New Age Bowls, New Age Street Bowls, New Age Euro Tennis and New Age Petanque, providing enough fun to satisfy even the sportiest of people. At this point, you know what New Age Kurling are all about, and all the great sports and games they have to offer. Whether you're looking for an accessible game for some family fun or a sport to get into and master, there's something for everyone from New Age Kurling. The only thing left to do now is pick one that sounds good to you, get out there and try it for yourself.
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