Kangei Judo Club in Basildon, Essex was founded just over a year ago in March 2014 and has grown rapidly in a short space of time.
“We started off with a small committee and myself, my brother-in-law Daniel Allum as head coaches and another coach, Lee Griffin”, Grant Egleton recalls.
“We wanted to see the sport do well and to promote it amongst the children. Putting back all the enjoyment that we’ve taken from it”, Daniel Allum added.
The club were based in a small church hall in Laindon, Essex where they were running sessions for approximately 7 children and 5 adults.
Support from British Judo enabled the club to open: “British Judo helped us set up Kangei Judo Club by providing advice and guidance on how to set up and start a new club and loaned us judo mats to start the club”, Grant explains.
Kangei then began to market the club to attract more members: “We used variety of techniques including the British Judo Club Marketing Portal to create and send out leaflets etc. and we did some local school visits too”, said Grant.
The club has also just received sponsorship from Nova, a marketing and web development company, who are helping Kangei develop their new website and a new marketing strategy to meet their ambitions. Kangei has also received local media coverage in the Basildon Echo.
“The club grew rapidly and we soon out grew the small church hall we were using and knew that we would need a larger mat area and venue to accommodate our growth”, explained Grant.
The club’s rise did not go unnoticed and with helped from British Judo Eastern Area Service Manager Laurence Keynon, Active Essex and the local council the club managed to obtain a £8,000 grant from Sport England.
“The money really helped. We brought a load more mats and now our mat area is 16 X 11 (the club’s previous area was 11 x 6 mats), so we’ve now got two contest mat areas.
“Ironically, our first grant application got rejected”, remembers Grant.
“We attempted to get the grant without seeking any guidance. However, the second time round we had that guidance from British Judo and Active Essex. We emphasized that we had good reason to have the grant [needed an increased mat area]. We also looked closely at the grant’s criteria and really focused on the 11 to 25 year old group, as these were the ages they were looking at. We sent off the application with some evidence and 4-5 months later the grant was approved and the money came in”.
Shortly after the grant money arrived the club moved to their current venue at Janet Duke Primary School in Basildon which was big enough to accommodate more judoka at their session.
The increased space has supported the development of the judoka at the club who have won a total of 35 medals from several competitions across London and the South East over the last five months.
The club has also expanded it’s workforce capacity as well: “Having started with three we’ve now got 5 coaches and one more starting soon. We also have a larger committee as well to help with all of those other important jobs around the club”, commented Grant.
From a standing start the club now regularly gets 70 players on the mat every week. But the club doesn’t want to stop there. They are now looking at getting their ClubMark finalised and open on more nights, but longer term the dream is one day to have their own purpose built dojo.
The club are also hoping to enter more players to competitions going forward: “We are working towards the Kent International later this month as we’ve got a few people going to that. We also have some veterans who want to do more competitions after getting a taste of it recently”, said Daniel.
But Grant insists that creating the right atmosphere has been crucial to the club’s quick rise: “The family atmosphere we have created has been really important. Rather than just doing judo we wanted to do other stuff as well so we could keep people’s interest. We take the kids camping, we do days out together, its great”.
“We all promote the club’s name and cheer each other on at competitions. It’s all part of the friendly and family environment we’ve built up here”, explains Daniel.
This philosophy is typified by the club’s name – Kangei which in Japanese means “welcome”.
The club has been supported by a strong team throughout its short existence: “I am a very small part of what makes our club successful. We have a very enthusiastic and dedicated coaching team and committee who all work very hard”, added Grant.
But asked what he thought was the most important ingredient in their success, Grant answered: “Transparency and cooperation. We’re a community club so we are all voluntary. Everyone’s time is given up to support the club and because of this people see that what they are getting for what they put in. We listen to what they have to say and we take it on board and maybe use it. No one is made to feel kept out and we try and make everyone feel included”.
British Judo’s Laurence Keynon congratulated the club on their phenomenal growth: “Kangei Judo Club are a shining example of what can be achieved if a club puts strong systems in place.
“It is a buoyant club that are clearly on the up, they have a strong coaching team, a band of dedicated volunteers and a large number of enthusiastic young Judoka”.
Kangei Judo Club meet on Wednesday evenings at Janet Duke Primary School, Markhams Chase, Basildon, Essex SS15 5LS. For more information visit their website at www.kangeijudoclub.com.