The JudoScotland Club Spotlight is a place to celebrate the hard work of our member clubs up and down the country and for this latest edition, we hear from a club with nearly thirty years under its belt who have established itself in its community with a strong club philosophy, Jidel Judo 93. We caught up with Head Coach Jonathan Imrie to find out how the club is getting on.

The last few years have been difficult for everyone, however, since November 2021 your club has seen incredible growth of 203% tripling its size. We know that this type of growth takes hard work and as a club, you have been busy delivering taster sessions, but how did the opportunities come about for you? 

“Partnership working was helpful to our response, when the schools reopened again for taster sessions after lockdown because we had JudoMark, we had everything in place and were ready to go. The partnership with Active Schools meant that we could get into schools, the reaction from the children to the tasters meant that the headteachers asked us to come in to deliver two sessions a week during term time. This success didn’t happen because we were ‘so good’ it happened because as a club we had everything in place and were ready to go.”

What do you think makes your taster sessions a success in recruiting new members? 

“Taster sessions are hard work and we have learnt from how our tasters have failed in the past. For Jidel the success of our tasters is down to our taster team of me, Tomi and Del. I have the experience, the sensei, whereas Tomi and Del are more relatable role models to children. Tomi inspires young girls as she doesn’t look like the perception of ‘someone that does Judo’ which helps to break down some of the barriers affecting young women in sport. Whereas Del brings the cool.”

“We have also worked out that 40mins is the ideal time for a taster as it gives you time to make it about fun, not just the judo content which can sometimes be too much for a beginner’s session.”

“However, getting members in is only half the battle, retention and keeping members engaged is where the hard work really begins. For us, retention is about creating better people, when we get them in, we work with them as individuals and any podium success is a by-product of what we do. This speaks to parents who make decisions based on their children’s happiness and development.”

What practical things do you do as a club to help keep your members engaged?

“The more JudoScotland or other club events we do, the more engagement our club members have with judo which helps their development and will mean that they stay involved with the club longer. So, we ask ourselves is this a good event? will it make my judoka happy? When the why of an event buys-in to our club philosophy it makes sense and if the governing body or other clubs are prepared to do the heavy lifting of running an event, why would I not get involved?”

“Not every JudoScotland initiative will work for every club, but this is how we do it. Our business model is going to be different to our colleagues at other clubs across the country but if together we can create a million Judo fans in Scotland, we will be one of the biggest sports in the world!”

We are always thrilled to hear good news stories from our clubs and members and have been delighted to hear great examples from our partners at Active Schools as well as the story our JudoScotland membership data tells. If you have a story you would like to share email