A SPORTS club which has seen members compete for their country has high hopes for its future.
Vale Judo Club was first launched in June 2003 and has gone on to build a membership of more than 200 people.
In the next five years it hopes to move to a permanent training centre and increase its membership by another 100 people.
Founder and head coach Mike Newton is a driving force behind the plans.
He said: “We would like to remain the number one club in the East Midlands and get to the stage where we can regularly have five children competing in the England squad each year.
“In the next five years we hope to move to a permanent mojo and take on another 100 members.”
Judo is a martial art which combines the power of resistance and effective timing, but its main focus is to use your opponent’s body weight and strength to your advantage.
Vale Judo Club attracts members of all ages and many families.
Mike said: “One of the reasons the club is so popular is that there aren’t many indoor sports clubs for girls in the county. When we first launched the club, a survey found that girls wanted something different to dance and gymnastics, and martial arts was next on their list.
“We have a much higher number of girls than most other clubs. About half of our members are girls but for most clubs it’s only about 10 per cent.”
The benefits of judo include promoting fitness, stamina, confidence, self-defence skills, flexibility and assertiveness.
Vale Judo Club’s classes are tailored to meet these different needs and interests. Some sessions are recreational while others focus on preparing for competitions.
Mike said: “Vale Judo is a big family club so the social side is a big attraction, but we also get a lot of children coming along to build their confidence.
“About 80 per cent of our members joined for fun but the other 20 per cent train to compete.”
Since the club started, about 11 of its members have gone on to join the England squad.
Next week the club is launching new six-week beginner classes. Sessions for mothers and daughters will run on Wednesdays from 6-7pm and for fathers and sons on Fridays from 6-7pm.
The coaches also run a schools programme with nearly 500 pupils across the county.
To find out more about joining Vale Judo Club, visit www.vale.lrjudo.org.uk