This weekend Murrayfield Ice Rink will be hosting the International Junior Curling Club (IJCC) Bonspiel. This is an annual competition which started in 2003 and which is held in different countries and clubs each year. Edinburgh juniors participated in the last two events in Italy and Switzerland and hence Murrayfield offered to host the event in Edinburgh this year.
The competition involves twenty-eight teams from seven countries: Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, England and Scotland. In all there will be nineteen international teams.
Now, I have to put it in writing that I think it is totally wrong that there should be multiple junior competitions happening in Scotland on the same weekend, although I do understand the difficulties of scheduling things in a busy season. The Junior International at Dumfries is also this weekend, as is the Royal Club's Newcomers event on Sunday. The Ladies' Branch Unders and Overs Competition has been cancelled. Much as I would like, I haven't yet been able to clone myself and be in more that one place at the same time! I will have more about Dumfries tomorrow.
The background to the Murrayfield event is that its aim is to bring together junior club curlers from across the globe to compete and socialise together. It is run by a small group of volunteers. The first event took place in Switzerland in 2003, and since then has been hosted by clubs in Germany, Scotland, and Italy. Teams have come from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, and Norway. The Rotary organisation provided support and sponsorships in the early years.
The vision of the organisers is to promote the sport of curling among the youth by offering junior club curlers the chance to represent their curling club in an international event, with all the benefits that such participation brings. The number of junior curlers of regional and national elite level standard is small in comparison to the overall number of junior club curlers. These elite curlers are becoming increasingly more dedicated and supported by extensive teams of coaches and rightly have many opportunities to represent their country. The IJCC Bonspiel in no way detracts from this but is instead targets those curlers who otherwise may not get the chance to curl internationally.
Entry is open to teams of four or five curlers from the same junior club. The Bonspiel is played in two leagues. League A is for the more experienced curlers, while League B is aimed at the less experienced players. This ensures that all club members are able to participate at some level.
The event starts tomorrow with an opportunity for practice and with a 'meet and greet' supper where teams introduce themselves and socialise. The curling starts on Saturday morning after the opening ceremony. During the weekend, all teams are guaranteed four games, with the top teams playing five. On Saturday evening there is a meal and entertainment. During the weekend all players will take part in a cultural visit in Edinburgh.