Blind curlers head off to face Canada in challenge cup

There will be more than a hint of local involvement when a team of Scottish curlers fly out next week to face counterparts in Canada.

Saturday, 25th March 2017, 12:34 pm
From left - Jim Thomson, Jim Gales MBE and Bob Drysdale go through their paces ahead of the trip to Canada. Picture by Dave Scott.

The inaugural International Curling Challenge Cup will consist of matches between blind, vision impaired and disabled curlers from both nations, as well as exhibition games, alongside able bodied curlers.

A four man Disabled Curlers Scotland team will leave on Monday for the event at Hamilton, Ontario.

Amongst those competing are Springfield’s Jim Gales MBE and Bob Drysdale from Tayport.

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Developing the sport for those with disabilities is something Mr Gales, also a renowned blind golfer, has spent years working with others on.

He said: “Three of us went across there in the 2010/11 season to try and find out a bit more about it.

“It was something we did off our own backs to see how they played the game blind.

“We decided to base the development across here on how we grew disabled golf and started off the same way.

“When we started that we only had a few members but we’ve gradually built that up and up.”

Some eight games will be played over six days, and involve people with all types of disabilities.

Disabled Curlers Scotland is the only curling group in the world to involve and encourage anyone with any type of disability, and of any age, to take up the game.

When it’s being played by blind curlers, the logistics of the sport naturally have to change, as Mr Gales explains.

“I have someone who stands at the centre of the house (the curling target area) who talks so I can hear their voice and can tell where the target is,” he said.

“Some of the guys use the light from a torch which they shine on the ice.

“There’s also always the skip on hand who can direct things left or right and paint the picture for us.”

Now, Mr Gales is relishing putting it all into practice.

“Canada are decades ahead of us but playing out there will give us a boost on the international scene,” he added.