Curling is a niche sport in England – but for Felix Price the sport means the world to him, writes Matthew Ward.
The 20-year-old is a member of the England Under 21s team and is honing his skills while working at the Flower Bowl – the £8m leisure complex at Brock, north of Preston, which is home to only the second purpose-built curling rink in England.
Felix, from Sussex, became interested in the sport at a very young age.
“I went to school down south in Crowborough, and they had a sports academy,” he said. “One of the teachers at the school was Canadian and there was a curling rink 20 minutes away and he said ‘look I can take some people along there to help out’.
“I was part of an initial eight people who started curling and that’s how I got into it.”
England U21s compete in the World Junior B Championships in Finland and are hoping to play in the World A’s with the likes of Scotland and Canada.
He said: “At the rink I played at down south I joined the junior group which would once a week come along and play.
“They were like ‘we need an England team’, so they had play-offs and trials, so I entered and got into the initial team for the worlds.”
As well as playing and representing his country on a world stage, Felix also teaches the sport to the people of Lancashire and beyond at the Flower Bowl, which opened in 2018 and has four dedicated ice sheets.
Felix moved north a month and half ago to Lancashire and was encouraged by a friend to go and teach curling at the Flower Bowl.
“I was working in a corporate job and didn’t really like it and my mate who’s on my curling team, he worked here during the summer, and he just said to me they are always looking to hire at this place.”
With his new job at the Flower Bowl, Price now teaches curling to relative novices who come day in day out to learn and play the sport.
“The fact that I play so much, it’s nice to be able to do something that I know so much about,” he added.
“I find doing the sessions really easy and it’s comfortable and just getting exposure for the sport as it’s not popular so getting people coming along and having a go is brilliant.”
Curling to many may seem like a sport for an older demographic with not many young people taking part in the sport, but Felix is determined to get all ages involved.
“Here we have the Preston Curling Club which is all ages so you can start from eight,” he explained. “We run junior leagues to try and get people into it and then there’s actually games that happen.
“The demographic here is obviously older, because there wasn’t a rink here for so long, they all played in Scotland.
“Because there was no rink here it’s tricky to get juniors to commit driving a three hour journey once a week.
“Having the facilities, especially somewhere like here that has crazy golf, cinema and bowling you’re going to get a younger demographic. Hopefully having it somewhere like this, more young people will get involved.”
What is curling?
- Curling is played on a 45m strip of specially prepared ice called a Sheet.
- At each end of the sheet there are two circles that look like target, known as houses. Each house consists of four rings which help define which curling stones are closest to the centre
- A team scores one point for each of its own stones located in or touching the house that are closer to the centre than any stone of the opposite team.
To get involved in curling click here
To find out more about the Flower Bowl click here