Sonkei Judo Club in Ballycastle has only been up and running for two and a half years but it has gone from strength to strength under the guidance of coaches Mark Donald and Mark Harris.
The club recently held a joint session with sister club Causeway Judo and over 60 members attended, a testiment to the hard work of everyone involved.
Coach Mark Donald was delighted with the session. “We have a very strong Junior section and have recently started our Senior section which we hope to see grow in the same way. We have a great relationship with Causeway Judo Club and are delighted they could join us to train. Alan Ashcroft was both Mark (Harris) and my coach at Causeway and he has mentored us through our coaching courses so Sonkei is his legacy in Ballycastle.
“At present I have 35 kids registered and we hold two sessions on a Monday night. Judo offers kids an alternative to main stream sports like football, rugby, gaa. It gives them an outlet to train and it can also be used along with other sports as a spplement to training.”
Mark’s mentor Alan Ashcroft couldn’t be happier with the success of his protege.
“What is very important about a club like this is the cross community aspect and for a long time there was a big gap in this area. “
Sonkei coach Mark Harris explained the benefits of sending a child to judo. “Discipline and confidence are two things the children learn. They learn to have self belief which is important. In a team sport you can hide but judo forces you to have confidence. You train as a team but fight as an individual.”
Mark Donald added: “They train together and learn their drills and skills and then when you are on the mat on you are on your own. “
Mark Harris continued: “The first thing kids learn when they come in to the club is discipline. They learn how to handle success and defeat which helps later on in life. Whether it is an exam or job interview, if you know how to handle disappointment it helps. “
Sonkei are currently in the process of building up the senio section of the club.
“We are hoping to attract new members to the Senior section of the club,” said Mark Donald. “It doesn’t matter if they have experience or not, if they want to come along on a Monday night they will be made very welcome.”
With Coaches Mark Donald along with Alan Ascroft and Marshall Craig from Causeway Judo club medallists at the Commonwealth Masters Judo Championships, there is a wealth of experience and knowledge available to anyone who joins Sonkei or their parent club Causeway Judo based in Ballymoney.
Alan concluded: “It is great to see the work Mark Donald and Mark Harris have done in Ballycastle and it is brilliant to see our two clubs training together. Judo is one of the sports that gets very little recognition as it isn’t a mainstream sport but you only have to look at the numbers of kids who turned out for the two training sessions to see how much they enjoy it.”
If you or your children are interested in joining Sonkei Judo Club they meet at the McAllister Hall, Ballycastle on Monday nights and sessions are open to both male and female participants. You can also get more information by contacting Mark Donald on 07789 224078 or by calling in at one of the sessions.