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PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

A young Saanich black belt has been named one of the five recipients of Karate Canada’s second annual Stay in the Fight Bursary which seeks to encourage female athletes to continue in their sport.

On March 26, Karate Canada announced that Malia Brodie, 18, and four other karate athletes from across the country had been awarded $1,800 bursaries to support them as they explore different roles – coaching, officiating, governance or leadership – to stay involved in karate.

Brodie, who got her start in karate at age four and trains with Varsity Performance Karate in Saanich, was excited to hear she’d been selected. When applying, she had to explain her history in the sport, how she’d use the funds and her goals moving forward.

The teen hopes to move into an officiating role for provincial- and national-level tournaments. The bursary will cover the cost of the certification courses which will start online sometime in May, she explained.

This year, Brodie hasn’t been able to train as much as she normally would because of the pandemic, but still managed to get her black belt in September.

Karate is “really good for your mental health” because when you step on the mat, you “let go of your worries,” she said, adding that it also creates opportunities to give back to the community through coaching, refereeing and judging.

Kraig Devlin, her coach at Varsity Performance, said Brodie is unique because she likes to officiate and “it’s a tough thing to do.”

Most athletes end up in the coaching stream, he explained, but officiants are in high demand because karate is an “officiant-heavy sport” – aside from the two athletes competing, four judges, a referee, a scorekeeper, a timekeeper and a supervisor are needed.

Devlin, who also coaches the national senior team and serves as Karate Canada’s high-performance director, noted that Brodie has medaled at many tournaments and national championships over the years. Most young women stop competing between the ages of 16 and 18 but the goal is to keep them involved in karate some way even after they retire, he said.

Brodie hopes to encourage others to try out karate and take the sport seriously by getting involved in the competitive side.

Despite the pandemic, classes have continued at Varsity Performance with new safety protocols in place. New students are welcome and classes can be accessed online via Zoom.

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