Leigh Judo club’s early years have laid the core foundations of an exciting and rewarding Olympic sport by teaching basic principles and judo technique based around key fundamentals and core values. However, with the Leigh Judo committee and volunteers hunger to continue the clubs success and development, a decision was made to help our members achieve more within judo by establishing a fun and supportive entry into an early stage competition and so the Leigh Judo Club (LJC) Junior Competition was born.
In November 2018 we put on our inaugural LJC Junior Competition, this was as much for the competition organisers as it was for the players. Having limited experience in this type of event planning, we had to learn fast, and we did. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive for all involved and this meant we really had to try again and prove it wasn’t a fluke!
For those that don’t know, Luke Brown (4th Dan) is the founder and Chairman of Leigh Judo Club, his technical judo, commitment, desire and focus is well known within the club and beyond. He is the driving force and the very heartbeat of the club. However, he is not entirely, shall we say…’always the most organised’…ask him what he packed for a night camping in Windermere?! With his drive and ambition, Luke decided we should trump out Nov 2018 competition success and do another in June 2019. “We have the medals, mat and the team, what more do we need?”
Well, it turns out, quite a lot when you start to think. Players, Licences, Notice, Fees, weigh-in, grades, pools, fees, scoreboards, food and drink, first aid, viewing area, adequate parking and this doesn’t even consider the fantastic group of people we have who volunteer for the club. We needed the café up and running and staffed, the weigh in desk volunteers, first aiders identified, competition controller, referees, table judges, technical support, player support/warm up, photography, and it must be said and reiterated that everyone, absolutely everyone, was fantastic.
Led by Chief Welfare Officer Stuart Holden, all were confirmed and informed of tasks and duties required. On Saturday the 22nd June 2019, many of us headed to the club to clean the mats, confirm health and safety, set up the scoring tables, stock the café, set up the weigh in desk and make sure everything was in great shape ready for the second LJC junior Competition. Luke and Tom even managed to find time to practice judo when they should have been cleaning the changing rooms!
Sunday the 23rd June 2019 started early for many of us. As the second competition, we had a reputation to uphold and excited players and parents expecting a fun and well organised event. The Players would arrive at 10am, check in would take approx. 30 minutes (we have only anticipated 30/35 competitors’ as this is a closed event). We would then spend another 15 minutes creating the pools and inputting the player names in to the judo scoreboards and finally a 10 minute brief of the event aims, rules and referee signals to the players and their supporters ready to start at 11am. We tried to plan everything.
The two mats were ready, Luke and Vicky were to officiate on Mat 1 and Stuart and Tom on Mat 2. Rebekah had done a great job of warming up the players and we were ready for the off. The first players were waiting at the top of the mat, the referees motioned for the players to enter, blue and white walked on to the mat, bowed and “Hajime” the competition had started.
For the LJC Junior Competition we have on both occasions removed the viewing chairs from the dojo to enable more people a chance to get in on the action and move when needed for others to view. This also has the effect of bringing a new dimension to the club that we don’t usually see, the hustle and bustle of the support and players patiently waiting for a chance to shine, the encouraging words, the ‘oooohs’ and the ‘aaahhs’, the sounds of the buzzer and the sigh of disappointment when a player loses and the cheers of a win. It is another experience for the officials and players to experience and really increases the anticipation, excitement and feeling of significance.
The day, of course, was really about our wonderful players. Everyone who took part was nervous, everyone was a little unsure to begin with but that’s the point. The referees struck a nice balance between the formality of a competition but still gave the players the support and encouragement they needed to understand the rules and commands needed within judo. We had players ranging from 5 to 15 demonstrating some fantastic judo and effort. All the players took home a bespoke and rather fetching LJC medal, not all the players were happy with the results, but gained valuable experience and determination to come back and continue to train to better themselves and give it another go next time.
The club would like to thank everyone for the support on the day, we are only as good as our members, volunteers and supporters. We have a specially designed t-shirt to say that you for all of your help. We are extremely lucky to have so many of you with us on this Judo journey!
Thank you – L J C