The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has brought our sport to a halt and has heavily affected clubs and coaches alike across Great Britain.

Head Coach of Gooch Judo Kwai Tina Parker was one of many who saw her teaching of judo in schools halted for the foreseeable future once the country was plunged into lockdown on Thursday 19th March. This saw her income drop significantly and forced her to close Gooch following Government guidelines.

Like anyone in this situation who has seen their main income ground to a halt, it was a stressful and traumatic time for Tina.

“To start with I just thought I will see how things go before considering applying for new employment. As the lockdown continued to be ongoing, I thought I can’t go on like this” Tina explained.

“My finances were draining rapidly & it was starting to affect me mentally.”

“When you have been involved in judo since the age of 4, it can have a massive impact on your life.  I just felt like this was never going to end. I was keeping myself fit still & running online sessions for members but it wasn’t the same. I missed the social side.”

Tina Parker has enjoyed coaching judo in schools for over 20 years

Tina had previously worked in Physiotherapy 20 years ago and loved the experienced before she left to start her family. As her children grew up and attend school, she began to build up her self-employed judo coaching business in schools as this fit perfectly around her family lifestyle.

There was always an intention for Tina to return to the NHS eventually, but Covid-19 gave the push that she needed to step onto the front line and help when the country needed her the most.

An Occupational Therapist vacancy in her local hospital was advertised and provided the perfect platform for Tina to use her experience off the mat.

“I am now in my third week of the job & I’m really enjoying it. It’s such a varied role. I’m working in Occupational Therapy/Physiotherapy (Acute Medicine Team).”

“It’s a really challenging role working on the hospital wards & out in the community in their own homes by helping patients maintain as much independence as possible. I love the variety involved & all of the therapy team are amazing at what they do. They have been so welcoming.”

Gooch Judo Kwai have now re-opened their club in line with British Judo’s Safe Return To Judo advice. They are currently holding small group training sessions, but like any club, rent and everyday bills need to be paid so any funds that the club can raise make a big difference.

“It’s not ideal but it’s a start & I suppose it’s the closest thing to normal we will get for the time being.”