Monthly Archives: December 2014

It's hard to believe that we only moved in to the Play Barn this summer. Thanks to the work of people like Kevin, Aaron, Vipin and Hubert, the building is really starting to feel like not just a gym but a home for the teams that train there. We still have a lot of work to do, however.

That's why we have applied to the Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund for a grant to help us get some new mats and other equipment.

Each week, the judges will pick four funds to award a grant to. In addition the fund that gets the most votes in any given week will be awarded a grant as the "People's Choice".

We'd be grateful if you would vote for us on the Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund website. There's no long-winded registration form to fill out. All you have to do is give them a valid email address so that they can send you a link to confirm your vote.

Thanks in advance for your support!

UK Anti Doping is celebrating its fifth anniversary today. Over the last five years, this group has worked tirelessly to promote clean sport. It is best known for the 100% Me campaign, which encourages athletes not just to stay away from banned substances, but also to educate themselves about the supplements and products that they are using.

Clean sport is something that is very important to us. Origin Sports works with both young athletes and adult competitors at all levels of sport, from those training recreationally to those competing on an international level. The pressure to perform is something that all athletes face, and UKAD's work to educate and support athletes, and ensure that they have the opportunity to compete in a fair and safe environment is invaluable.

TournamentOne of the biggest struggles when it comes to keeping young people engaged with sports is the cost of taking part. Many young people struggle to afford gym fees and kit, let alone the cost of competition, and it can be demoralizing for a young person to have to stay at home while the rest of the team goes off to compete and comes home with great stories to tell, and perhaps even a handful of medals.

Not everyone has the time or the money to travel to Birmingham, Nottingham, Glasgow or the other competition "hubs" to compete, and requirements such as gis that fit a certain way or are a certain colour mean that some people may be forced to purchase new gear just for one specific competition. It's no fun to spend all that money and travel all that way to potentially have only one match in the competition.

Removing the Barriers to Competition

That's why we are working together with Versus Grappling to put on five tournaments next year. There is a definite need for competition at a grassroots level, and Versus Grappling has already held a few successful tournaments over the last couple of years. We believe that the demand is there for a full tournament schedule in 2015, and we will be working with Versus Grappling to make their tournaments more accessible and inclusive.

These tournaments will be held in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and will have affordable entry fees as well as reasonable equipment requirements. They will operate using the repêchage system, so all entrants will be guaranteed at least two matches. This gives everyone a chance to test their skills in competition against people of their own age, weight and ability.

The tournament schedule for 2015 is:

Date Event
8th March 2015 Newcastle BJJ Open Spring Tournament (Gi)
9th May 2015 Versus Grappling 6 (No-gi)
11th July 2015 Newcastle BJJ Open Autumn Tournament (Gi)
3rd October 2015 Versus Grappling 7 (No-gi)
5th December 2015 Newcastle BJJ Open Winter Tournament (Gi)

If these tournaments are successful, then we hope to do something similar for wrestling and other sports in the future. We believe that everyone should have a chance to compete in an inclusive, supportive environment.

When Origin Sports moved in to the "Play Barn" at Mill Lane Youth Centre, the building was in a serious state of disrepair. It had no electricity or water supply, the parking lot was overgrown and full of litter, and the building was dirty and unfit for use. Newcastle Council was looking to dispose of the building under its Community Asset Transfer program.

As well as being unsightly and unhygienic, the abandoned youth centre car park was a more serious problem area for the Elswick community. The area was used for fly tipping, and it was also a popular gathering ground for drunks and drug users. The youth centre is located on a road which leads up to the local Asda supermarket, and some shoppers were intimidated by the presence of those large groups of drunken youths.

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with some other groups that were using the building, including a pro-wrestling group that holds their practice sessions there, and a parkour group called Apeuro Parkour & Freerunning. Together, we cleaned up the building and turned it into a thriving community area which is used seven days a week for sporting activities.

A Team Effort

Cleanup CrewCleaning up the youth centre was a huge team effort. We started work on renovating the youth centre in the summer. Many of our members are college and university students, and they gave up their valuable free time to come in to the center and pick up litter, weed the garden, paint, steam clean the floors and power-wash the equipment that had been left in the building. They also worked to repaint several parts of the building using painting and decorating supplies that had been donated at a significant discount by the local branch of Wickes, thanks to the help of another member, Vipin Chauhan.

Since the area has been cleaned up and the facility is now being used by the local community on a daily basis, the area around Sceptre Street looks better and feels safer. We still have a lot of work to do to turn the Centre for Urban Arts and Sports (as the Play Barn is now called) into the kind of facility that our members would like it to be and there are still many basic facilities, missing, such as gas heating, but the centre and the surrounding area have improved dramatically over the last few months thanks to the work of our members.

Young members such as Kevin Ling and Hubert Lebiedzinski (both pictured above, along with head coach Ian Malone), James and Aaron all deserve commending for giving up such a large chunk of their summer for the  benefit of the Elswick community. In addition to this work, they also found time to help out with other charitable and community projects in the north; such as the shows produced by the non-profit organization South Shields Fighting Fit, and the more recent Teesside Grapplethon, which raised money to help 4Louis, a charity which helps parents that are suffering following the trauma of stillbirth or neonatal death.

Plans for The Future

Our work in the area is just beginning. Our member base includes people of all ages and abilities, and we would like to support those members as they pursue their goals, whatever those may be. We would also like to introduce more people to the joy of sport, working closely with schools in the area to produce confidence-building and anti-bullying programs.