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DASCB Coin – Major Stephen Gibbons Mr John Harrison & Cpl Sophie Bladek

Today Major General Shaun Burley CB MBE attended the Taekwondo training in Aldershot to present DASCB Coins in recognition of their support of British Army Sport to members of the team that were present.
Major Stephen Gibbons
As long-term Army Taekwondo (TKD) OIC and Team Manager, Maj Gibbons’ directs, develops and delivers assurance, strategy, promotion and martial arts activities on behalf of the Army Martial Arts Association and Army Sports Control Board. He has been instrumental in the delivery of the strategy, Risk Assessments and Recovery Programmes and liaison with the NGB (GB Taekwondo) which enabled Army TKD to be the first to resume training after COVID.
Maj Gibbons is an advocate of using Army sport and Taekwondo activities, in particular, to invest in our people by providing CPD and FD opportunities. He continues to deliver regular training development and grading courses to all eligible tri-service personnel including Reserves, UOTC, MPGS and UK-based Allied Forces. His particular focus has been on Force Development and the introduction of various positive recruitment and retention tools for Army TKD which has seen a substantial increase in the number of practitioners over the years.
He maintains control of the regular CoC requirements for staff work and R2, and oversees the financial accounts, results, health and safety compliance and admin instructions for Army TKD, most often in his own time.
Maj Gibbons also leads by example as a TKD competitor. He has retained the Interservices’ title throughout his tenure and was recently promoted to 3rd Dan.
• Administration, planning, support, officiating and participation in 2 x Army Open Competitions and 1 x Interservice (all at weekends) per annum. Administration and support to national and UK-based competitions and UKAF team (all at weekends).
• Generate, FoE, AIs, Budgets, Stores, and a plethora of supporting documentation to ensure the smooth running of Army Taekwondo. Shape strategy with advice on National Governing Bodies, rules, regulations and compliance.
• Demonstration of compliance with ASCB and national governing body rules and regulations. Management and procurement of In-service purchase and running costs.
• Regular engagement with ASCB, AMAA Chairman and players CofC to positively influence Army Taekwondo.
• Successful with staff work and citations which includes TASS awards, BAE Sponsorship and Army/Corps awards. Successful with business cases to win money to improve training equipment. Have written three Corps Sports Award citations and all three have won their respective Corps sporting personality of the year awards for R SIGS, RA and AGC.
• Delivered a Communications Strategy Initiative. Including publicity, and promotion. Published articles in Soldier, other military publications, BFBS TV and radio coverage.
• Continuous engagement to promote benefits of Army and wider Taekwondo. This has resulted in increased membership and strengthened the team. Great attendance and talent at Army TKD courses. This aids with personal development and a positive retention tool.
His selfless commitment to managing and delivering Army Taekwondo to our personnel as a volunteer highlights why Major Stephen Gibbons is a much-deserved and outstanding recipient of the DASCB Coin.
Cpl Sophie Bladek
Cpl Sophie Bladek is an Army Reserve soldier and high-grade martial artist. She is a former BaE and TASS-sponsored athlete and the most successful Army Taekwondo female fighter. She has previously finished in the Top 3 of the 2018 Army Rising Sports Stars and is the 2019 International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) World Champion. She has won several national competitions on multiple occasions.
However, it is her selfless commitment to developing the Army TKD ITF team which is as equally noteworthy and demonstrates her extra capacity to command, lead and manage. Cpl Bladek volunteered as OIC, ITF Taekwondo when senior ranks were not prepared to step up and grip the team. Her drive and determination took the team forward and they progressed to be the multiple Interservices’ Champions under her tenure. She has also dedicated significant personal time and effort to advance the team through regular and progressive training activities and courses which includes weekends. Morale in the team is ‘sky high’ and her training sessions and expert coaching have provided team cohesion and a winning mentality.
Cpl Bladek’s achievements absolutely make her stand out and she has achieved so much for Army Taekwondo, by carefully balancing this commitment against her professional nursing career, which has been particularly challenging over the last two years. To accomplish so much while in Pte now Cpl rank , and as a Reservist is outstanding and worthy of the Director Army Sports Control Board Coin Award.
Mr John Harrison
The nature of Army Martial Arts means that we do not have a sufficient level of experience or expertise to coach at the highest levels and we rely on civilian coaches to fill this vital role.
Mr John Harrison is nominated for the DASCB Coin Award for providing prolonged support and guidance in the development of Army Taekwondo in such a role.
He is a high-grade and highly respected Taekwondo civilian instructor and has delivered training and development programmes to Army Taekwondo courses for several years. His patience and expertise have ensured that Army Taekwondo players from novice through to black belt and beyond have improved and progressed their Taekwondo skills. He has also conducted official British Taekwondo gradings which follow the national governing body (NGB) syllabus. This has provided soldiers with the opportunity to advance through the syllabus, learn and develop new skills and potentially reach black belt.
Mr Harrison is an expert Sports Taekwondo (Olympic Style) coach who has sacrificed much of his spare time at weekends to successfully coach Army fighters at high profile competitions. Mr Harrison is also the United Kingdom Armed Forces Coach and all UKAF fighters have taken medals at the British Taekwondo National Championships in recent years (majority of the team are Army). His commitment to both promoting Taekwondo and supporting military personnel development demonstrates his commitment and epitomises his total professionalism.
For his dedication, commitment and provision of elite level TKD coaching Mr Harrison is deemed worthy of recognition through the awarding of a DASCB Coin.
Many congratulations all on your well-deserved awards for fantastic support to British Army Taekwondo