Calvin Walker-Hall

Calvin is the very dedicated head coach of Hackney Judo, as well as active competitor. He works tirelessly to set a great example and lift the aspirations of the young people from Hackney.  

Growing up and going to school in Hackney Calvin relates to and inspires the young people at Hackney Judo. He is a talented coach and player with many successful results at the National level. He is creating pathways for the young people at Hackney Judo to succeed at a National and International level while improving their opportunities to succeed in life. 

Background…

Where are you from?
I am from Hackney, London

What role did sport play in your life as a young person?
As a young person it played a huge role in my life, I was captain of both my primary and secondary school’s football teams; as well as a sprinter on the athletics team, and outside of school I played for a local football team and also I trained in Judo.

Who influenced you as a young person?
I was influenced by my judo coach, who opened his own club at aged 17 to which still is thriving, we coach this session together.

What is your educational background?
After studying art and design in College I then studied fine art before going to university where I completed a BA in graphic design.

What is your career background?
I am a full-time judo instructor and head coach of Hackney Judo Club, with over 10 years of coaching experience.

Pick three words to describe yourself?
Passionate, Motivated, Hardworking

What do you do in your spare time/hobbies?
In my spare time I like to train to compete in judo events including gym and strength and conditioning. I also enjoy doing music production and engineering, Ice Skating and graphics design/fine art.

How long have you been with Hackney Judo for and what led you to become involved?
I have been doing judo in Hackney since I was 6 years old. 7 years ago I opened Hackney Judo Club, I did this because I aspired to give back to the sport and more importantly my local community by helping everyone, especially children and young people, do something positive through learning a unique sport and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

Why do you think sports works so well to engage young people?
I believe that there are many different elements that help to engage young people, such as being able to build strong bonds and friendships with other teammates and even opposition. Also many enjoy growing as an athlete through clear development pathways and importantly having fun.

What are some of the main challenges the young people you work with face?
Unfortunately, many of the young people I work with often struggle with barriers to participation due to; financial difficulties, as our borough is among one of the poorest in the country, child poverty rates are high and many of them come from single parent families.

What positive changes have you seen since you began with Hackney Judo?
On an individual level, I have seen players completely transform their lives, going from being vulnerable children, close to exclusion to upstanding members of the sporting community within our national governing body, as referees, officials and champions; respected by fellow players, colleagues and coaches.

As a club which used to represent a relatively unknown sport; to this year managing to win the award of Sports Club of the Year at the Hackney Sports Awards, we have definitely identified the positive work that the players and coaches have been doing over the last few years.

What impact would you like to achieve going forward?
I would like to continue to have positive impacts on individual lives of children and young people. I’d like to expand the reach of our club to other areas of our community who may gain from the benefits of our sport. One day, I would like to be able to help players follow their dreams of reaching world class and Olympic standard.

What have been some of your biggest learnings so far?
I have learnt that our sport has the power to change people’s lives for the better, it can impact both their mental and physical health. Even in such a competitive sport like judo, the correct mix of training, fun and enjoyment can promote amazing development.

What are some of the challenges you face going forward?
Even in our clubs short existence, we have already had a lot of amazing achievements, such as developing home grown Regional and British champions, national medallists as well as young officials and referees but, one of the next important stages in our players development is to compete abroad in international events for vital experience. Unfortunately, because of our players social economic disadvantage many will struggle to even compete in our home nation events in Wales, Ireland and Scotland this is due to the expense of travel and accommodation.

How much of your time do you dedicate to fundraising over the implementation of the programme?
Unfortunately, I am unable to put in as much time as I’d like to, as I am the only fully time judo coach within our borough and sometimes, I am coaching up to 5 different sessions in 5 different venues per day.

What are some of the best or most memorable experiences you have had?
Watching the team in sheer disbelief and elation after winning the London Young Games (the largest Youth Sporting event in Europe) not once, but three times consecutively.

Who/what inspires you?
I am inspired by athletes across a multitude of different sports, including judo, who show outstanding resilience, determination and overwhelming desire to reach their full potential, despite any setbacks, injuries or illness.

I am a huge believer in hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

What would be your message to others trying to create impact in their communities?
My message would be; Be consistent and remember what you put in is what you get out. If you really care about the project or programme, you’re working on and the people involved then invest time in understanding what they need, that way you can better help them achieve what they want.

  • Calvin Walker-Hall