Youngsters invited to represent England but now face funding fight

    READY FOR BATTLE Pete Rickards, George Rowe, Isobel Eason-Warner and Katie Moon

    FOUR teenagers who have been selected to represent their country in Taekwondo are appealing to the local community for support so that they can compete.

    Pete Rickards, 16, George Rowe, 15, Isobel Eason-Warner, 14 and Katie Moon, 15 beat hundreds of other teenagers to earn their place on the 36-strong national squad. They all train with the 220 member Tonbridge Taekwondo Club, some since the age of three.

    The team will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria in April to compete in the Junior European Championship before facing off against squads from around the world in Dublin in October.

    However, Taekwondo receives very little funding from central bodies, so the club, parents and students themselves are looking at ways to find the money necessary to take part on the international stage.

    In order to compete, the four martial artists must purchase around £500 each worth of regulation equipment, on top of travel and accommodation. In total the four of them are looking to raise £8,000 by October.

    Now they are looking for sponsorship from local businesses as well as putting on individual fundraising events, including raffles and cake sales.

    Their coach Tim Dunn, 37, has been running the club in Tonbridge since 2001 and was himself recently selected to train the national team.

    He said: “We are over the moon with what they’ve achieved. Most of them have been with club over ten years, so I’ve taken them from the youngest age bracket to the oldest.

    “We pride ourselves on being a competitive club, but they’ve really excelled.”

    Katie Moon, who attends Tonbridge Grammar School, revealed that she was ‘excited but also quite scared as well’ by the upcoming challenges, adding: “It’s a big experience and it can be daunting at times but really I’m just so excited to be part of the squad.

    “It’s really a step up from the training I’ve done before and the coaches and other competitors set the bar really high. But they do it to prepare us for the competition we’ll face internationally, so the training standard has to be high.”

    To donate, visit: www.youcaring.com/georgeroweisobeleasonwarnerkatiemoonpete-768503

    What is Taekwondo?

    A Korean martial art, characterised by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks.

    It is a relatively new sport, with the first governing body for the sport being formed in 1959. Taekwondo has been an Olympic event since 2000.