|Organisation:||Sillington V2 club & Easi Rockits VX club|
Karen Bruin is an self-proclaimed ‘accidental coach’, after being persuaded by her two daughters to take part in the sport VX. She is now a Level 2 qualified coach and went onto to set up her own club.
Global VX (the governing body of VX) had a chat with Karen and asked her about her journey from VX newbie to Head Coach of her own club…
To start with why don’t tell us a bit about yourself?
My name’s Karen Bruin. I’m over 21, I’m a functional skills English tutor in a prison. I’m also assistant coach at Easi Rockits VX club and head coach at Sillington V2 club and I’ve always been very keen on fitness so it’s really why I got involved with VX.
That’s what I was going ask. We’re here to talk about your involvement in VX but why don’t you tell us about how it all started, how you got involved?
Ok it’s a bit of an accident really. My middle daughter had been at a VX session at the cadets, the RAF cadets that she went to and she really enjoyed it and she told me I should have a go and I said “no, it’s probably not for me I don’t generally really do any team sports,” but then my youngest daughter started to go and she needed taking so I just sat there with my book one night and Paul came over and said to me “why don’t you bring your trainers next week and have a go?” And so I did and I’ve never looked back.
This middle daughter of yours, does she still play?
Oh she does yes. She actually joined the RAF now and so obviously her availability’s a little bit limited but whenever she can she does and she’s on the England squad.
You’ve been involved a while now, what’s VX done for you?
For me, absolutely loads. I love it, I’m totally committed to this sport. Obviously I started out playing, you know, learning the ropes as you do and it was just a form of fitness really, initially but then I started getting involved in the competitions. I got quite a range of different medals, you know, runners up and winners of different competitions that we’ve done, both in V2 and VX.
What’s the difference?
Ok the VX is the full game in that there are 5 players on each team and there are 5 balls in play and its played In a full size gym. The version is just one person against another on a squash court and its played with 3 balls.
Alright so team and singles then?
You’ve got medals and you play both?
Yes I have, yes and one other thing that I really ought to tell you is that in 2013 the players voted me player’s player of the year and I was extremely proud of that particular award. Not least because most of them are young teenagers so not exactly my age group, so yes very pleased.
Am I right in saying you coach and you help with the administration?
I do, yes I try and give half a day a week to help, of course with any organisation there’s always admin to be done and I just see it as something I can do to help along the way
But it’s particularly your coaching that we’re interested in so why don’t you tell us about that?
Ok obviously it just seemed a natural progression that once I’d started playing that I could help other people as well so I did a level 1 coach within the club over, took about a term to achieve that one and then we had training sessions specifically for level 2 and I obtained that qualification. At that point I became one of the assistant coaches in our own club and there’s 4 female assistants and 3 males so the women are just slightly in the majority there. And then having done that I set up my own club and we’ve had quite a lot of success there. We’ve hosted international visitors some of whom were over for the world cup in 2014. We were selected as a hot house for accelerated development for one of the sports protégés who is female and we have some concentrated training for the current world champion and since then I’ve gone on to be involved with a little bit of coaching in schools or after school clubs if I can fit it into my busy schedule.
So you’re clearly very committed to VX but what is it you like about VX? Why is the sport so different?
I think it’s different for lots of reasons. The fact that you play on a level footing with men, you know male and female alike, gender neutral. It’s very inclusive, it’s very accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. Its very family focussed. Obviously there’s myself and my 3 girls, we all play but in every club there’s at least one family that’s involved and people see it as a way of being able to do something with their children that they probably couldn’t do in any other sport. We’ve got a wide age range, the people playing run from 5 to 70 and the atmosphere is so good. People really seem to care about one another. We actually call it the VX family. I just think it gives a lot of children confidence, especially those that are not so able. It just has everything.
Ok so what’s next?
Right well we’ve just taken part in the national finals and I came third in the Masters and now were getting ready or the VX league. That’s due to start next month. We’ve got a series of games ready there. And there’ll be preparation for the master’s world cup. Obviously that’s the world cup for all the players at all the different levels but that’s the section that I’m in. the first test matches are taking place in India in June and I’m hoping to go out there and in the autumn we’ve got the European championships so it’s all happening and I would urge anybody that’s remotely interested in sport to give it a go.