This month, Club Matters caught up with Sports Commentator and Club Natters Podcast host Robyn Cowen to hear about her involvement in grassroot sports and how she achieved a blackbelt in Karate
How old where you when you joined your first sports club and what was it called?
I was involved in various sports from a young age, but I joined my first actual club when I was nine years old. It was called Wheatley Ryobu Kai Karate club.
What do you remember about the club?
The main thing I remember about the club was how family orientated it was. I started after my dad had been there for a couple of years. They always encouraged anyone watching, whether that be parents, siblings or friends to join in and train together. To me, that’s so important and makes the first step to what can be a little daunting much easier. The club was run by Sensei Roland Read who had been teaching Karate for well over thirty years. He was the best teacher I have ever met, he fostered the perfect balance of discipline and fun and from that, I met people there who have become friends for life.
How important was this grassroots introduction in developing your love for sport?
It’s incredibly important. For me personally, it shaped how I approach things in life and helped my concentration. The technical nature of some of the exercises we learnt helped when attempting other sports. I was very proud to represent the club.
What is your fondest memory of sport when you were younger?
I have so many fond memories of sport as a youngster, there’s too many to choose from! Rounders lessons at PE in primary school, playing football in the garden with my dad and sisters. I think my favourite memory though, was winning a karate competition in “Team Kata”. It’s a little like synchronised swimming as a group of three, you have to perform a series of moves together in unison. After months of practice our trio won gold in our category, it was all the more satisfying achieving it as a team.
Is there a particular volunteer from anywhere along your incredible journey that made a real impact in your life? Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Sensei Roland Read who has run Wheatley Ryobu Kai Karate club for many years. He has developed hundreds of students from 6 to 60 years old, given up countless hours to run the sessions all the while doing most of the admin work. I know for a fact that he has had to spend his own money to keep it going. He’s helped me become the person I am today without him I wouldn’t be carving out my career in broadcasting.
Do you / would you like to volunteer your time and giving back to sport?
I occasionally teach at the karate club but it’s very rare these days, I would love to give more back and volunteer in sport in the future because it has given so much to me. I know volunteers are told quite frequently just how valuable they are, but if there was any doubt it’s so true however seemingly small or large the job your time and commitment is paramount in passing on sport to the next generation, so they can feel as rewarded as I and millions of others do when they participate.
Is there any message you’d like to give to the volunteers who help run thousands of sports clubs up and down the country?
Quite simply none of this is possible without those who get involved in grassroots sport - you make the difference! So, thank you!