Swords Judo Club took a huge step as an organisation last weekend when they opened their new facility on Kettle Road, a fully-equipped training centre with the only sprung floor for a judo club in Ireland, in a ceremony attended by president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey and Irish national judo squad manager Keith Gough.
The club, which has previously used local school halls, Applewood Community Centre and space in Extreme Fitness in Airside, decided to make the move in order to build on the success of the club and increasing interest in the sport.
Speaking to GazetteSport last week, club coach Leo Gibbons said: “This is a big move for us as a club. We cater for children aged between five and 18, and this was a big committment.
“There is an issue in Swords around the provision of space for niche sports clubs. The big problem with these minority sports is that there are no facilities around for them.
“We had spoken about getting our own premises, but we thought it would not be finanacially viable. But the rent we are paying now is the same as we were paying on the other locations and we have the full time use of the new hall.”
The purpose of the move is to help to accomodate the training of the 75 members of the club at present and allow them to provide additional classes and facilitate those interested in the sport.
“ The problem before was that we could only fit so many people on mats [for training to take place], unlike karate or taekwondo. We can only lay out so many mats as we have, and have a number of people training to match that. With full time use of the premises, we can start two beginners classes at the same time.”
The club has produced Irish champions and the number one judoka in their age and weight categories, and the club has a very good profile in judo circles in the country and abroad. It also features former Russian national team member Elena Pronina, who represented her home country at the the world championship in 1997, who trains a class twice weekly.
Swords Judo is always looking for new members to become involved in the sport, and for more information, log on to www.swordsjudo.com or see their Facebook page.