Interview with Kerry Tansey

Kerry started judo at the young age of 9, learning the sport both technically and competitively, attaining many titles along the way at both National and International level. She now offers judo coaching to those who have disabilities and special needs.

We spoke with her in an interview to find out what she does to support the Adaptive Judo Community as well as Coach those who have disabilities.

How long have you been involved in judo?

Started when I was 9.  I went with a friend because they wanted to try something new and didn’t want to go on their own.  The sport wasn’t for her, but I stayed, and the rest is history.

When did you first think about specialising or providing more support to adaptive judo?

I was invited by Ron & Jean Cleere to attend an event at Walsall to support the Special Needs competition that was being held.  I was the tea lady for all the officials.  Between refreshments, standing watching the children go onto the mat, compete, smile, and celebrate their efforts was truly humbling and from that point on I was hooked.  I was given the opportunity to be further involved whilst working for British Judo, I embraced the role with open arms and didn’t need asking twice.

Tell the judo community more about your journey with adaptive judo?

Working with the team involved with then ‘Special Needs’ and now known as ‘Adaptive Judo’ we strive to create opportunities, awareness and knowledge around the length and breadth of Great Britain. Having the support from British Judo and the volunteers involved we strive to create recognition for athletes with disabilities and provide opportunities parallel to mainstream throughout the country and abroad.

If you were advising a coach or club on getting started with supporting more judoka with additional needs what would you say?

Don’t worry, do what you do best, teach judo!!   Welcome the challenge and your rewards will be seen by the smiles, the effort and determination to do their best.  Nothing is out of your control, challenge yourself to enjoy your coaching and look for alternative ways to reach your goals.

How does coaching mainstream judo differ to coaching adaptive judo?

Coaching adaptive players challenges you to identify your coaching delivery styles regularly.. Keeping your coaching skills sharp which includes and benefits everyone.  We all at some point, get in a rut, stop looking at our styles of delivery, expect everyone on the class to just ‘Do’…  not the case..  there is a wider range of disabilities unnoticed in our clubs and looking at our own coaching delivery will enhance your athletes learning experiences – Practice, Understanding and productivity of the lesson in hand.    Nothing should be any different…

What has been the most challenging aspect of providing additional support to judoka with additional needs?

Acceptance that our athletes are just as important as mainstream.  Coaches to provide and offer opportunities for their athletes and recognise that Adaptive competitions are as important as regular provisions.  There are many athletes with learning disabilities in our clubs who are just ‘carried along’ with the mainstream events.  Often leading to them being disheartened and leaving the club.  There are opportunities for everyone in our sport to achieve success.

With promotion and recognition, the world will identify the pathways that can be created and celebrated which then in turn will provide support and funding to achieve European, World and Olympic recognition and the story continues…

What has been the most worthwhile moment of providing additional support to judoka with additional needs?

Too many to mention.. From the simplest of welcoming new faces to our personal clubs and the National Inclusion Training Day (February), then seeing them progress to competitions, smiling, trying their best and winning medals and recognition of their efforts, to striving to work with Countries and International Federations with likeminded coaches to create a uniformed pathway of judo ability that the world will recognise to develop adaptive judo to a success for all levels.

Can you sum up in one sentence what it means to you to be fully inclusive as a judo coach or club?

The feeling of being Inspired, proud, successful, accomplished every session…is worth every minute.