Anyone who has enjoyed watching Welsh double Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones will know that Taekwondo is very much a contact sport. It is no surprise then that Covid-19 has posed some obvious problems for community clubs across the country.
Yet the Taekwondo Cymru – Little Mill club in Monmouthshire has overcome this challenge by finding innovative ways of delivering their sessions. And they have successfully applied for a grant from Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund to put these ideas into action.
Sarah Farthing, who runs the club based in the Little Mill Village Hall, explains: “We teach Olympic-style Taekwondo. It's a full contact sport which focuses predominantly on sparring and is very interactive, so social distancing has made this impossible! Our members have been amazing and have been working really hard on their fitness but without the contact they've found the experience disheartening and repetitive. It’s basically not been a true reflection of the sport.
“We applied to the Be Active Wales Fund to enable us to invest in brand new kit, including punch bags, reaction light training and jump boxes. Using these training aids, we can design exciting, dynamic sessions with lots of variation. We can be really creative with them. For example, we can make mini training stations where members can do drills and timed rounds. The training aids are excellent for resistance too - it feels far more realistic to kick a punch bag rather than the air, and it is safer too.”
The training aids will be available for all members to use. The club also plans to introduce 'sport bubbles' for the under-tens, once they are permitted to mix together again, so they can invite children from the waiting list to start training.
Once they are able to resume, the club is also hoping to attract more girls to the sport. They plan to showcase the new training aids on social media and on flyers to demonstrate how they are used and to get girls excited about having a go. The next Jade Jones could be just around the corner!
The £3,064 funding awarded to Taekwondo Cymru – Little Mill came from the ‘Progress’ element of the Be Active Wales Fund which provides grants of between £300 and £50,000 to support sports clubs and organisations with their future plans so that they can offer even better opportunities for the nation to be active beyond the Covid-19 crisis.
Since the pandemic began, more than 800 sports clubs and organisations have benefited from a share of over £2.1m through the Be Active Wales Fund, and more is still available for Sport Wales to distribute thanks to money from Welsh Government and re-purposed funding from the National Lottery.