Alekk M. Saanders
Friday, 28 April 2023, 18:14
“We are fire on ice,” a member of Jamaican bobsleigh team participating at Olympic Games in Calgary once said. Thirty years ago Hollywood released Cool Running, a sports comedy film which made the Jamaicans famous.
Going above and beyond to train and compete in their sport is also the story of Malaga's curling team. They are from the Costa del Sol, the warm and sunny coastline of Spain, but do their best not to melt the ice at curling competitions.
Their story dates back to 2010. Then, very close friends living in the same neighbourhood of Malaga were sitting together watching curling on TV. It was too exotic for totally ice-free Malaga though they thought curling could be a good activity for them because their combined abilities were actually well-suited.
However, curling was not and still is not convenient for Malaga because of the absence of a standalone curling rink. Relatives and acquaintances were sceptical about playing curling on the Costa del Sol. For encouragement, the group used to watch Cool Running. It did help.
They decided to take the plunge and the name of the team was chosen: Los Compadres. That year, the team's skip Fernando Galván became a father. Inevitably Fernando Junior has been associated with the birth of curling in Andalucía.
Since his birth, Fernando Jr has been with the adult curlers. Eventually, he was taken to Scotland, 'alma mater' for the Malaga curlers, who had been invited to train in Edinburgh from the beginning. And so it was there, on the Murrayfield club ice rink, that a ten-year-old Fernando first stepped on the ice.
“My journey to Scotland was my first trip abroad. When my father told me that he would take me to Edinburgh I started learning English at school three times more intensively. It is a good example how, by reaching one goal, you can succeed in more areas. Scotland in winter made unforgettable impressions to me.
"I remember how fascinated I was seeing local kids playing with stones on a frozen lake. In Edinburgh the game atmosphere is felt as well as the smell of baked scones with raisins which I liked a lot. Indeed, I found my inspiration for curling abroad,” Fernando Jr told SUR in English.
Through his experience Fernando's father realised that curling is good for physical health and provides mental stimulation. It is considered a highly strategic sport, and often compared to chess.
Fernando encouraged his son to share his passion for curling. Fernando Jr grew fond of the sport and did his best not to be inferior to the adults. A couple years ago, the youngster was admitted as a member of Los Compadres.
“Unfortunately, in Malaga we don't have facilities to be able to train very regularly. It is a barrier to the growth of curling in Malaga. Nevertheless, we take any opportunity to play tournaments or train. So, in general, Los Compadres train only one weekend a month. The months of preparation are from September to April. It means that I have to miss my classes at high school on eight Fridays,” Fernando Jr said.
In March Los Compadres went to Italy for training for the first time. Their destination was a two-hour drive from the airport of Milan, a direct flight from Malaga. Bormio is one of the few Alpine resorts in Italy to have an indoor curling rink, and the only one in Lombardy devoted exclusively to this very special and entertaining sport.
“They say it is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and it is true. I liked the mountains that were my extra inspiration for my winter sports. Inspiration is important, and Italians are really inspired. A gold medal in mixed doubles at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games helped revitalise Italians' love for curling. The Italians treated us in the friendliest way,” Fernando Jr explained.
Fernando Jr spent Easter in Jaca (Huesca province) where Spain has just one exclusive track for curling in the Pabellón de Hielo. The training camp convened by the Spanish federation for juniors took place from 7 to 9 April. Fernando Jr was called up for these training sessions, which mark the end of the season, a very successful one for the Malaga curlers.
Los Compadres stress that they are super proud of their "baby" in his first call for these training sessions. It means a new generation of Malaga curling is being nurtured.
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