Friday, September 11, 2009

Scotland's supported curlers

I note that the Royal Caledonian Curling Club has now made public the names of those receiving support in the various strands of the Performance Pathway, see here. At last there is open confirmation of who is playing with who this season!

I talked about the 'entry level' Regional Academy curlers recently here. And the British Curling GB Olympic squads are well known.

The Elite Squad team programme is managed by the Scottish Institute of Sport, with Head Performance Coach Cate Brewster in charge. The named teams are:

(1) Sarah Reid (skip), Kerry Barr, Barbara McFarlane, Laura Kirkpatrick, with coach Annie Laird.
(2) Claire Milne (skip), Lynn Cameron, Kim Brewster, Rachael Simms, with coach Brian Binnie.
(3) Tom Brewster (skip), Duncan Fernie, Ron Brewster, David Edwards, with coach Gordon Muirhead.
(4) Warwick Smith (skip), David Smith, Craig Wilson, Ross Hepburn, with coach John Dunn.
(5) Gillian Howard (skip), Kay Adams, Linsey Spence, Sarah Macintyre, with coach Margaret Richardson.
(6) Peter Loudon (skip), Logan Gray, Richard Woods, Colin Campbell, with coach Bob Kelly.
(7) Anna Sloan (skip), Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams, Rhiann Macleod, with coach Isobel Hannen.

Within the teams above, individuals receive various levels of support, as noted here.

The National Academy programme is managed by the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach Rhona Martin. The supported teams are:

(1) Hannah Fleming (skip), Rebecca Kesley, Alice Spence, Abigail Brown, with coach Debbie Knox.
(2) Jamie Dick (skip), John Hamilton, Andrew Craigie, Graeme Copland, with coach Russell Keiller.
(3) Glen Muirhead (skip), Greg Drummond, Thomas Sloan, Michael Goodfellow, with coach Gordon Muirhead.
(4) Ally Fraser (skip), Steven Mitchell, Scott Andrews, Kerr Drummond, with coach Tom Brewster (snr).
(5) Colin Dick (skip), Blair Fraser, Lindsay Gray, Thomas Pendreigh, with coach Keith Prentice.

All of the above are attached to the various Area Institutes of Sport. There are a number of other curlers receiving support through Area Institutes, see here.

So, why has there been such a delay in making public the names of the supported athletes? Gail Munro, whose team finished fourth in last season's Columba Cream Scottish Championship, was not selected for Scottish Institute support in the Elite Squad programme. The decision was made by members of the High Performance Committee, one of the most secretive committees in Scottish curling, comprising members from both the Institute and the Royal Club.

Within the Performance Pathway, the Elite Squad is described in this way, "The Scottish Institute of Sport Elite Squad programme supports individuals and teams via specialised individual programmes such as strength and conditioning, performance lifestyle advice, individual supervised training, team coaching, sports medicine, anti doping, sports science, performance analysis, financial support in order to participate in competitions at home and overseas, expenses and funding giving them the platform to excel."

However, selection is not made completely objectively, a point that has been made in previous years, even if selection criteria appear to have been fulfilled. These criteria, incidentally, are no longer able to be downloaded from the Royal Club website. Having been knocked back, Gail appealed. An appeal panel, comprising Irene Hird from the RCCC Board, and Mike Whittingham from the SIS, has taken some time to investigate the Performance Committee's decision, but their final say has been to support the Committee's original stance.

Gail and Lyndsay Wilson will receive support through the West Area Institute, and her team will receive further support this season to allow them to compete abroad, as part of the Royal Club administered programme, rather than the SIS one.

I applaud the performance pathway which gives access to support, both financial and in other ways, to our competitive curlers, unheard of in my day. But - and perhaps it's just me - the whole organisation seems so complicated with the involvement of British Curling, the Scottish Institute of Sport, the Area Institutes and the Royal Club! However, perhaps the complexity is just a small price to pay for the support that exists.