Jamal                                                                  Sohail

Stoke-on-Trent based community interest company, Engage Communities has harnessed some rising Taekwondo stars to help inspire local young people to get involved in the Olympic sport.

Talented Sohail Iqbal who recently won a bronze medal at the 2012 British Taekwondo National Championships has signed up to be a coach for the Stoke-based Round House project. The project is called ‘Round House’ after the famous roundhouse kick and is designed to help young people to develop skills and qualifications in Olympic sports like Taekwondo or Boxing.

Yaser, who leads the project explains; “As we’ve seen from the Olympics, sport has an enormous capacity to make a positive difference in people’s lives. It provides young people with a constructive way of letting off steam and teaches them about discipline, perseverance, hard work and respect for others. These are all skills that will be incredibly beneficial to them in all areas of their lives.”

Sohail comments; “It’s really exciting to be involved in the Round House project. I love Taekwondo and competing nationally can be a thrilling experience. I really want other young people to get involved in the sport too. I was lucky to be able to progress through the ranks and after training with the project, I’m now able to coach others.”

Another local star, boxer Jamal Ledoux, is also involved with the Round House project, having progressed through from a participant to a Boxing coach. Jamal has recently been called up to train with the Great British squad. If he is successful, the 21 year old light heavyweight from Hanley could end up representing his country. He explains; “This is an exciting time for me, and I’m keen to make sure that other Stoke kids get the opportunities I’ve had. Sport has changed my life and I want it to do the same for other young people.”

The Round House project will train local people in Taekwondo and Boxing in community locations across Stoke-on-Trent. The classes will be offered at minimal cost, so any young person who is interested in taking part will be able to come along. All the specialist kit will be provided which makes it accessible for any young person to take part.

But there’s more to the programme than just sport. The young participants will also benefit from a mentor to help fuel their personal development. Yaser adds; “They’ll also gain an ASDAN qualification, the equivalent of a GCSE, so the project will help boost their self-esteem as well as giving young people something to put on their CVs. Some young people can even go on to become qualified coaches, like Sohail and Jamal, helping to inspire even more generations to come.”


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