This Government Killing Martial Arts

Are we seeing the death of Amateur Sport?

This may seem strange questions after one of our most successful Olympics ever and with the UK hosting the 2012 Olympics. Yet the British Olympic committee have said there has been a drop of 20% participating in Sport and remember the Olympics is now open to Professionals. So the word amateur sportsman is now a defunct name for Sports people? Yes in top sporting events to reach the top of the main sports you have to be professional but there are still people who are participating in Sport whether as a coach, competitor, participants who are at a level where they receive no financial gain in fact doing there sport costs money.
My feeling are that unless things change rapidly Sport participation is to sink to even lower levels especially with the under 16 years. Let give an example:

Ask yourself the question how many local Football teams started with a couple Dads kicking the Ball around a park other lads join in, some weeks down the line some one comes up with the idea let’s form a Team and join a league. A new team is formed which give the youngster discipline, sense of belonging, pride and all the other things sport can give.
Could that happened today? If it can what would they needed
1) Kit
2) Professional Indemnity Insurance to protect the coach
3) Accident Insurance for all the players
4) Public Liability Insurance
5) Coach Qualification
6) Club Mark
7) Join a league

Club Mark what is that I hear you say? Surely that is not a legal requirement No not yet but without a Club Mark you will most probably get no grant aid, it will be difficult to get insurance cover and the local schools will not recommend your club. Recently a member of my Judo Club the Young Judo Club asked the Person in charge of all the local SSCo (School Sports coordinator) why we were not on the recommended list she informed him that the Government has told them not to recommend any Club without a Club Mark! Yet our Club is over 50 years Old and is World Famous and never had a visit from this person, someone I might add who is paid by the local Tax Payer so much for Democracy in the UK. Our Club is lucky it has sufficient funds and expertise to get a Club Mark from both the British Judo Association and Kent County Council.
What is a Club Mark this basically a Kite Mark so people can recognise a Club has some basic standards, this in itself is not a bad idea but why do we need the HEAVY HAND of a dictatorial state.

Here are some of the things require for a Club Mark Must have two qualified coaches , Two Volunteers must attend a course on running a club and how to be a volunteer, CRB Check, attend Child protection Course, has an open/non-discriminatory constitution and equity policy , The coaches and volunteers responsible for the programme have job descriptions with
Clear roles and responsibilities assigned. I could go on and this all for a group of people who want to help kids get involved in Sport and doesn’t finish there by 2012 all Coaches will be expected to have United Kingdom Coaching Certificate with prices up to a £1000 I wonder how many people will take up the offer.

All my facts can be checked by going to on the internet, after readings this am I right in saying amateur Sport will soon be dead? Or am I just a cynic but don’t say you have not been warned.

Well Dads do you still want start that Football Team?
Martin Clarke Sittingbourne


I recently wrote an article about my concerns with regard to how Bureaucracy is killing amateur sport or shall I say how it is trying to prevent people starting sport. The main thrust of my article is one the cost and the amount of paper work you have to collect to start a club, lets have a look at cost:
1) To start any club it will soon be necessary for a newcomer to hold a United Kingdom Coaching Certificate, this will involved attends a weekend course including a Friday night, then there will be an exam and this is for you to be an assistant Coach the cost anything from £200 upwards. Now an assistant can only assist a full Coach, so you will have to move on the next step a Full Coach this involves several weekends and a lot more costs I am told anything from £600 upwards.
2) To start your Club you will need to aim for a Club Mark what does that involve (I am quoting the Judo Club Mark but I expect it will be the same for all Sports)

Coaches and volunteers
There is a minimum of two BJA Club Coaches working within the club programme – all coaches hold a current valid BJA coaches’ certificate
At least two volunteers (one is a coach) have attended a sports coach UK child protection course.

One coach has attended a sports coach UK Equity in your Coaching course
One volunteer has attended the Running Sport Club for All course in the last 12 months

Duty of care and child protection.

  • The club has adopted the BJA Child Protection Policy and is working towards the procedures laid down
  • The club has adopted codes of conduct for all coaches, referees and volunteers working with children and young people
  • The club has a code of conduct for parents/carers
  • The club has written procedures for dealing with injuries/accidents
  • The club has access to a telephone at all club sessions, gradings and competitions
  • Coaches and volunteers have access to first aid equipment at all club coaching and competition sessions
  • The club has the contact details of parents/carers and emergency/alternative contacts
  • The club records all junior players taking part in coaching activity on attendance sheets with access to important medical information

Club management

  • The club is affiliated to the British Judo Association, and has public liability insurance
  • The club has an open/non-discriminatory constitution that is reviewed annually and comparable to the current BJA Model
  • The club has a specific membership category and pricing policy for children and young people
  • The club has contact with its local authority sports development officer or Sports Partnership
  • The club has a junior co-ordinator to act as a liaison with Sport England, Sports
  • Partnerships and the BJA
  • The club ensure that all coaching and competition takes place within a safe facility
  • The club has a set of rules for children and young people
  • The club communicates regularly with players/parents/carers via regular mailings of newsletter or information bulletin
  • The Club has established one Club – School link
  • The club has a current written 12 month action plan

Playing programme – coaching and competition

  • The coaches and volunteers responsible for the programme have job descriptions with clear roles and responsibilities assigned
  • The club has separate junior and senior training sessions
  • The Club provides opportunities for juniors to gain grades in the BJA Mon grading scheme (including Novice to 6th Mon)
  • The club provides opportunities for juniors to attend BJA county/area competitions
  • The club operates with a recommended player/coach ratio no greater than 20:1

I expect some will say I am a Luddite on the contrary I have been advocating proper coaching syllabus for nearly 30 years, I along with Geof Gleeson formulated the IBF Coaching Effective Programme, I founded the Academy of Coaching with Geof and was a founder member of the Guild of Sports Internationalists details can be found In all honesty the UKCC must have looked at the IBF Coaching Effective Programme because the similarities are obvious as with the Club Mark most of what is included all my clubs have practised for over a decade with one or two accept ions.
The one thing both Geof and myself agreed on all those years was educating people to become Coaches should be voluntary and inexpensive if it was to cater for all people. The idea of Government getting involved was horrific to the pair of us as we could see if they were involved the actual Coaches would be pushed to one side and the bureaucrats would take over eventually dumbing down everything to the lowest common dominator.

So before long Sports Coaching and Sport in general will become just another Government Quango i.e. State Run Sport.
Sometimes it pays for people who know their subject to be allowed to run their own organisation with out government interference and without government money. When you are self funding you become much more appreciative of where money goes and most goes on the subject you are interested in, as soon as Government money funds a project all of sudden you see the cost administration go sky high, soon there are more administrators then participants.

Coaching and Sport needs to be innovative, inventive, Government involvement will HARMONISE Coaching and Sport, this means it will standardise and innovation will be treated as interference in the well running of sport, with a compulsory system how would you get new sports or new ideas. How many new sports have been invented over the last few hundreds years if sport was run by the state would they be there now I doubt it.

Let me explain how I and many other sportsmen have worked in the past with great success I will use Judo as my sport as that is my expertise but this scenario can apply to any sport.
One of your adult students shows an interest in getting involved in the Club lesson; he or she is of reasonable ability (Judo Blue Belt). You start by allowing them to shadow you or a qualified coach as you see them progress you give them more responsibility till they are ready to take a lesson under your guidance. Once they have reached this stage you encourage them to take a qualification, the IBF has a Practical Proficiency Award Scheme for Instructors. This scheme allows the qualified Coach to examine the candidate on his Practical ability, there is no written work involved in this scheme and all work is done with in the club at a minimum cost of £10 this can be seen

What is also important about this PPA is that it get people who are not academically aware i.e. have a problem with reading and writing, involved. These people can be very gifted Coaches who a natural ability to pass on their knowledge to others yet if we continue down the line of Compulsory qualifications which have a high academic and high cost input these people will be marginalised in fact “Academic & Financial apartheid”

Coaching should always be a two way ride the Coach teaches their pupils and by doing this they increases their own knowledge. For example many years ago a good friend of mine a Female Coach had two very good Female Judo Competitors both were Travellers after a period of time both wanted to be come Coaches yet neither could read or write to any level but they were excellent Coaches. Both passed their PPA but they were not contented with this they wanted the Full Coach Award, to do this both went to classes to learn to read and write properly, So becoming a Coach helped them redress the failure of the State to educate them and the State was not involved with their progress. Yet another plus was that the Female Coach who introduced them to Judo also taught them to read and write, she gained by the experience because it was an area she had never visited before, I could go on but by now you should have the idea.

The Compensation Culture is also causing a great deal of problems in the Sports World with more and more Coaches moving out of Coaching because of the fear of being sued. Recently there was a Court case regarding the injure to a Junior Judo Player whilst doing a Grading (Belt Promotion Test) his claim was that the boy he had to demonstrate on was bigger and older. He weighed 5 lbs more and was 6 month older; thankfully this was not accepted by the Judge, if it was Judo would be finished along with all other grappling sport. How can you have a child age for age, weight for weight it is impossible. Yet this case has brought up the scenario about age and weight, for years a junior was 5 years to 15 years divided into weights, with little or no injury. As we Judoka became more educated we realise that the age difference was to great so my organisation IBF UK made the following changes 5,6 and 7 years, 8 years to 12 years, 13, 14 and 15 years all divided into weights. Recently the Governing Body for Judo the British Judo Association introduce weight categories in two years age band, an excellent idea it was hoped it would encourage more youngsters to compete and would certainly be a lot fairer and safe (safe to me it not the right word as infers any other way is unsafe and that is not true). Sadly it has not encouraged more players what it has done it has made winning a medal easier, this in my opinion leads to a drop in standard but that is another matter. The problem is with Judo in decline over the few years and all associations membership has decreased create a problem when running tournaments. The governing body will have sufficient members to run these two year age band competitions but smaller organisations and clubs will not get enough players to have such varied amount of categories. They have relied on something similar to what the IBF UK organise, these smaller events have been the feeders for the major tournament, the ones that encourage the new player to have go. So if the Insurance companies decide insure only two year age band tournaments these will be finished another nail in the coffin.

This has been a long winded letter but I think it is important that something is done other wise we will sleep walk into State Run Sport which will there for the few who can win international medals just like the old Soviet Union who used Sports as a show piece for their political system.

If I can raise enough interested in my concerns I will try to organise a meeting it is hoped a leading politician will chair the meeting, please circulate this letter to anyone who you think may be interested in preserving British Sport

Martin Clarke 118 East Street Sittingbourne 01795 437124