The Ladies' Branch has cancelled the Unders and Overs Competition which was scheduled for Braehead, April 2-3. On February 14, here, I put out a call for players on behalf of the organisers, flagging up a clash of dates. It turns out there are in fact three other competitions involving juniors that weekend, at Dumfries, Murrayfield and at Greenacres, this last being the Royal Club's Newcomers event.
At the Unders and Overs, the Ladies' Branch aim is to encourage lady curlers under or over 25 years of age into competition curling and to have two experienced players compete with two less so. The date of the event was changed this year so as not to clash with the World Juniors.
Brenda Macintyre, the Ladies' Branch President, explains, "We made a decision one year ago to change the competition to the 2-3 April so as to avoid a clash with the World Juniors in Perth, however, this proved to be unsuccessful. We knew at the time that it would involve a clash with the Under 21 International in Dumfries, but we were not aware that two other junior events would take place on the same weekend. As a result of this, we did not receive enough entries to go ahead despite the efforts of our Ladies Branch representatives and the decision to cancel was taken.
The Unders and Overs has been running since 2004 and having played in it many times I can tell you what a fun and social event it is, a great way for the young and old(er) members to gain experience from each other. I am very disappointed that it will not go ahead this season but at our next meeting we will be discussing how to ensure that we keep this Competition in our calendar."
The Ladies' Branch is of course liable for the costs of the cancelled ice.
Whilst I sympathise with the Ladies' Branch problems in the clash of dates, I question if the format of the Unders and Overs competition is really the best way forward. I just wonder if the not inconsiderable effort and finance available would be better spent in supporting junior women curlers in some other way, perhaps by promoting an under 17 and under 15 competition just for the girls. With the Unders and Overs cancellation still to be debated, this will be a good time for the Ladies' Branch to be rethinking their role in promoting women's curling through all the age ranges.