This week Oamaru Mail sports reporter James Ford speaks with Whitestone Taekwondo Club Master Paul McGeown about his plans for 2013 and the people that make the club special.
How long have you been involved with the Whitestone Taekwondo Club?
I started the Whitestone Taekwondo Club in 1999 as part of the Community Worker in Schools programme. It was originally for six children as an after school programme.
How high is the level of young talent coming through locally?
We have great young black belts in the club. Each year we bring a visiting instructor to Oamaru and they are always impressed with the standard and dedication of our younger members. This year the 2012 Olympic Coach for Samoa, Master Kesi O'Neill, will be visiting us for a weekend's training.
How has the club changed over the years?
We have always been family orientated so haven't really changed too much.
What are your club's plans for the future to ensure its progression?
We are linking in with other Taekwondo organisations in 2013 so we can get back into tournaments. Competing against other clubs helps us to gauge where we are at with our own fitness and techniques.
What is your fondest memory of being involved with the club?
As a father it would be travelling with my son, Ryan, to Korea when he competed in the Korean Open in 2005.
How do you think participation levels in Taekwondo can be increased?
If we had more adults stay in the club after they received their black belts and invested time back into up and coming students it would ease the workload amongst the instructors we have. They could upskill themselves and everybody wins.
Do you think it's a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages?
Definitely! We have students from 5-years-old up until those in their 50s. There is a lot more to TaeKwondo than jumping around throwing spinning kicks. As we get older - or perhaps have physical injuries or limitations - the art can be adapted to suit the person.
What do you think your club offers the local community?
We are very fortunate that we train at the Waitaki Community Rec Centre so have a safe venue to train in. We also visit schools, church and community groups to run self defence sessions or Taekwondo training sessions so people can have a go.
What's special about your club?
Our volunteers. All our Black Belt instructors and parents help out and don't expect anything in return.
If it wasn't for them there would be no club.