Lusaka – Zambia, Dec 3, 2013: While the best judo champions were in Japan, for the annual Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2013, the IJF, was also present in Zambia, Africa, for an important Judo for Peace event. On that special occasion, the first stone of the future national training centre was inaugurated.
From November 29th to December 3rd, the IJF Judo for Peace commission organised a seminar in Lusaka, Zambia. Six countries from the Southern region of Africa participated: Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Swaziland. The first day of the seminar was dedicated to the presentation of the Judo for Peace philosophy and activities. The second day saw the organisation of a mixed team event for cadets, based on the same principle as during the Youth Olympic Games: the team were composed of girls and boys, coming from the different participating countries.
Eight teams of six judo players were engaged in the tournament, which took place in front of a numerous and enthusiastic public of more than 1,000 spectators. The format of the competition was greatly appreciated by the delegates of the participating countries. Estony Hattingh, President of Botswana Judo and Temba Hiasho, President of Judo South Africa, were particularly pleased: “This format of competition gives a good opportunity to our young athletes to meet other competitors. It creates a real atmosphere between themselves and reinforce our judo community. We might develop the concept in the upcoming years.”
Several important personalities were also present during the competition day. The government of the Republic of Zambia was represented by its Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, who declared: “It is with tremendous excitement and pride that I am greatly humbled to welcome you all to this important event. This magnificent Judo for Peace seminar and tournament is the stage which gives us the wonderful opportunity to come together and meet, for the athletes to compete in the best sense of friendship, solidarity and fair play, synonymous with the Olympic movement.”
The Deputy Minister had a special word to Marius Vizer: “May I take this opportunity to thank the IJF and SportAccord President, Marius Vizer, for his continued support to the sport of judo in Zambia, and I pray that now, with his role in the Japanese 2020 Olympics, judo will benefit even more.”
The government representative concluded his inaugural speech by saying: “I am reliably informed that Zambia Judo Association successfully launched the Judo for Children programme in 2010, a programme that already brought positive results to Zambia and Africa. My government is convinced that judo is an indispensable factor in the education of the 5 to 12 year-old age group. Sport gives children an opportunity to build their skills and to be forward looking in life. Sports help children to learn self-discipline and assertiveness. These are important life skills, which we need to promote through sport and at all costs.”
Judo, the fastest growing Sport in Zambia
The Zambian National Sports Council and the Director of the Olympic Youth Development Centre, where the event was held, were also present and both declared: “Judo is one of the leading sports in our country and it is the fast-growing sport. Hosting such an event in Lusaka, at the Olympic Youth Development Centre has a particular significance.” The centre was opened in 2010 by the President of the Republic of Zambia and by Jacques Rogues, the former IOC President. As a partnership between the IOC, the Government and the NOC, together with a strong cooperation with International organisations, the venue aims to provide good sports for all programmes and good facilities for top athletes and to be the leading and most inspiring sport institution for athletes and sports leadership development in the whole region. Clement Chileshe, Director of the Centre said: “Judo has a strong impact within the communities. Young people first came to the centre because they believed that they would become better fighters, but they actually became better citizens and left the gangs they were members of.”
Judo: One of the World Leaders in Promoting Social and Human Development
Throughout the seminar, the Zambian Judo Federation, led by its President Alfred Foloko, did a fantastic job to accommodate all the participants and to make the event a great success for Zambia and for the whole region of Southern African countries. During the opening ceremony of the seminar, Foloko declared: “This is a profound moment for me and for the Zambia Judo Association as this seminar speaks about the principles and the spirit of judo. As you are aware, judo has been one of the world leaders in promoting social and human development through its teachings. Now more than ever, we need to develop judo as so many issues affect our athletes and their communities. Our sport should help them to rise above these issues including gender abuse, poverty, unemployment and crime.”
Foloko emphasised the power of judo and thanked the Judo for Peace commission and the IJF for its never-ending efforts to promote the judo values: “I am particularly grateful for the support and cooperation of the IJF in working with us to take judo forward in Zambia. We have a great partnership and are confident in the shared vision we have as a collective Judo Family.”
Project in Refugee Camps under Studying
The Judo for Peace Commission, who’s director is Jan Eirik Schiotz, was founded at the international level, by Marius Vizer, when he was elected as the IJF president in 2007. Since then, several projects have been developed in different regions of the world. In 2012 in Abu Dhabi, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Vizer and Lemke, Special Adviser on Sports, Development and Peace of the United Nations Secretary General. During the Judo for Peace seminar in Zambia, the possibility to set up a first pilot project within the Refugee Camps was discussed with the Zambia Judo Federation as well as with the Police and Armed forces, which make an outstanding job to promote judo and its value throughout the country. This first Refugee Camp project should be launched in 2014.
Landmark Ceremony for the Construction of the Judo National Centre
The Judo for Peace seminar gave the occasion for a very well-orchestrated ground breaking ceremony that launched the construction of the future Judo National Training Centre. The building will be located in the heart of the Olympic Youth Development Centre, which is under the responsibility of the National Olympic Committee. In cooperation with the local authorities and financed by the IJF, the construction of this centre will benefit to the Zambian Judo and Sports community as well as to the whole region. Foloko said: “Today marks the beginning of the construction of the judo centre, a landmark judo facility for development athletes, officials and for hosting competitions. I am pleased that the design of the centre will not only meets the requirements of this unique sport, but is also conceived with sustainability in mind. Apart from the building hardware, we also attach great importance to the development of programmes.”
The IJF was represented by its Media and Communication Director and member of the Development commission, Nicolas Messner, who emphasised the necessity of using the judo centre as a great development tool: “Today is a great day for judo in Zambia and judo in the region. When this facility will be operational, competitors, referees, children, officials will meet here to strengthen their skills and to strengthen judo.” —- IJF
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