Thursday 12 September 2019

Is paddling on your radar?

As a child, gymnastics was never on our radar. It wasn't a school sport, I only knew of one girl in my grade (and probably the whole primary school) who did gymnastics and I didn't ever join the dots and consider it to be a sport for me. My mom had no reference to gymnastic either so it was not a sport on her radar either. I did athletics, netball and swimming (and I tried my hand at tennis but it was never of much interest to me).

I would have been so good at gymnastics! I've always had an aptitude and affinity for anything with strength, balance and neat tricks, which is probably why I so loved pole dance and circus school as an adult - and I still love the challenge of yoga balances.

Unless children (and adults) have an opportunity to try an activity or for the sport to be placed front-and-centre on their radar, they're unlikely to know that it even exists.

Our town has a monthly market that attracts local and out-of-town visitors. It is near a spot on the river, which makes it well placed for a bit of 'market research' from us.

We gave this a try this past Saturday, taking along our children's Kwando kayaks and also the Tsomo kayak, our shortest adult kayak. The area is not big, but it is sufficient.

This plan worked a treat and we had lots of children coming to paddle as well as an grandpa with his young granddaughters, a super cool aunt who paddled with her niece and a number of first-timer adults. We generally have really good success with people at demos specifically because we have the right kind of kayaks with our Vagabond Kayaks - they are designed to be great to paddle.

There was one boy in particular that caught our attention. He absolutely loves paddling. It seems that his dad, who lives in KZN, paddles surfski. This boy spent hours on the water and really got the hang of catching eddies and paddling in the little bit of current. He is totally the right type of child to get into the sport. We did chat to his mom about bringing him to our paddling club for coaching with Celliers. They live in Vanderbijl - so we'll see if anything comes of this. I certainly hope it does because this boy has a natural ability and affinity for paddling.

We'll probably try this monthly - getting a better feel for interest and ages - with the aim of growing children's paddling and bringing about awareness to parents that the sport of paddling is accessible to them and their children.

Children take to paddling our Kwando kayaks like ducklings to water.

Intro to whitewater... Boys, Kwandos and surfing mini rapids. Note some crazy configurations with the boys on the pink and green Kwandos paddling 'backwards' - sitting in the tankwell! They do all kinds of fun stunts. These two, Erik and Ruben, are good young paddlers. The one on the blue, first timer. The one on the yellow has paddled quite a bit and this is his first time playing in a small rapid on a Kwando.

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