30 May 2022

Taekwondo Kickstarters: bringing martial arts to remote communities

Cassandra Plain from Outback Taekwondo in the Northern Territory is just one of several Australian Taekwondo affiliated club owners running Taekwondo Kickstarters as part of Sport Australia’s Sporting Schools program. 

Sporting Schools is a $400 million Australian Government initiative designed to help schools increase children's participation in sport and connect them with community sport opportunities. The program is provided free to children and their families to help students build the confidence and capability to be active for life.

Cassandra has recently returned from Warruwi in the Northern Territory after conducting a three-day Taekwondo Kickstarters program at the Warruwi School located on the Goulburn Islands about 300 km east of Darwin off the coast of Arnhem Land. The School provides education to Indigenous students from preschool to senior year levels.

Cassandra Plain from Outback Taekwondo with students from Warruwi School

"Australian Taekwondo contacted me to say they had a remote School that wanted to look at offering Taekwondo, and I said, yes, I'll jump on board. That's how it started," said Cassandra.  

"We flew over and were on-site for three days, it was basically non-stop, one session after another. We introduced Taekwondo to about 75 students."

The local community welcomed Cassandra with open arms and couldn't be more accomodating for their mainland visitor.

"The School was very hospitable, and the community is really open to having people come over [from the mainland] and teach them new sports; they were very welcoming."

What was exciting was seeing children of all ages try Taekwondo for the first time and embrace martial arts, furthermore the novelty of having a female deliver the sessions.

"The kids really got into the sessions and took on board each of the drills that we set up. The younger kids, those around three to five years of age, loved to get the kicks and punches out." 

"It was really interesting to see how the students reacted. Obviously, Taekwondo is a completely new thing for them, but to have a female instructor was also something that was new and exciting because it's not something they're used to."

"The sessions also allowed the students to try something new because they're used to having the major sports like AFL, NRL, Basketball, and Cricket all visit." 

"The trip was a really good experience. It was great to fly over there and do something I love doing. The School has offered for me to come back, and it's something I'd like to do once a year."

As one of Australian Taekwondo's newer club owners, Cassandra has participated in Taekwondo for nearly 16 years and has been teaching for seven. She joined the Sporting Schools program about 18-months ago and has found it an enjoyable experience as an instructor, offering more teaching opportunities but still providing flexibility around club commitments. 

"The Sporting Schools program allows me to teach during school hours," said Cassandra.

"The program has allowed me to teach at various schools, from those who have special needs up to larger school groups. It's been really good seeing the different groups and how they respond positively to me teaching them something new. Even the teachers jump in and give Taekwondo a go themselves."

Ben Exton, National Participation Manager for Australian Taekwondo, said the Sporting Schools program is a value add for affiliated clubs and encourages their involvement. 

"All instructors are paid (per hour) by the School for delivering each session. Running Taekwondo Kickstarters gives affiliated clubs a junior starter program that connects potential new members, including parents, to their local Taekwondo club. It also offers clubs an additional revenue stream." 

"Schools that are part of the program receive funding to run our Taekwondo Kickstarters program. Once a School has its Sporting Australia grant approved, they contact Australian Taekwondo, and we connect Schools with an affiliated club to organise program dates and times for the term."

Australian Taekwondo provides clubs with free marketing material as part of their affiliation to make it easier for clubs to promote Taekwondo Kickstarters. 

"We have a quick-start marketing pack available for clubs who become a Sporting Schools club. The pack includes social media tiles, a flyer, and a video clip. Clubs also receive a certificate to show their club is a certified Sporting Schools club." 

To get your club involved in Taekwondo Kickstarters and the Sporting Schools program, please contact Ben Exton, National Participation Manager for Australian Taekwondo, via email participation@austkd.com.au.  

Outback Taekwondo is an Australian Taekwondo affiliated club based at St Francis Primary School in Darwin. The club focuses on teaching the different aspects of Taekwondo in a fun filled and safe environment. Click here to connect with Outback Taekwondo and experience their club offerings.

We acknowledge that our office is spread across many traditional lands, and we pay respect to all traditional owners of these lands and elders past and present.