Undoubtedly, for more than a week, judo was the star on the riverbanks of the Chari River, in Chad, from January 20th to 22nd, 2012, at the International Tournament of the City of N’Djamena which took place in the Country.
The event brought together six African nations during a competition that is intended to be developed in the years to come.
Beyond the appearances and the undeniable impact that such an event has on the development of judo throughout the region, it is all the activities directly or indirectly related to the tournament that helped to make this week a celebration of sport and judo, as well as a great success.
3rd Tournament of the city of N’Djamena
In the “Land of Toumaï, cradle of humanity” as Chadians like to call their territory, but also beyond its borders, the tournament, in its third edition, is now known as the ‘TIVI D’JAM’ for ‘International Judo Tournament of the City of N’Djamena’.
With a big smile on his face and in his shiny white suit, the young President of the Chadian Judo Federation, Abakar Djermah, warmly welcomed his guests and all the foreign delegations (Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon).
It is important to underline that the African Judo Union and particularly the International Judo Federation have made notable efforts to support the TIVI D’JAM’s launching. Many steps remain to be overcome and much work still has to be done by the local organizing committee to produce a tournament that will become a key event in the world calendar. But what willpower and commitment from all the organizers, led by President Djermah!
What sacrifices and what risk-taking is it to jump into a huge organization like the TIVI D’JAM, in an economic and structural situation that is far from idyllic.
As is the case everywhere, but perhaps even more so here than elsewhere, the global economical and financial crisis has devastated everything: traveling is difficult and expensive and the slightest amount of money that can be saved is valuable. That is why it is not easy to venture into the organization of an international judo tournament.
“If you risk nothing, you get nothing,” President Djermah constantly reminds those around him. Following the hard work and commitment of the Chadian Judo Federation, the International Judo Federation itself, led by its President, Mr. Marius L. Vizer, provided equipment and human resources to allow judo to develop throughout the region.
A week of activities
Before and after the tournament took place (20-22 January 2012), many other activities and meetings were held under the supervision of the IJF experts present in Chad to assist the organizing committee. Barely off the plane from Paris, Thierry Loison, bringing the equipment offered by the IJF to run the competition (computers, cameras, software …), began working with the local organizers to set up the whole infrastructure of the tournament.
On his side, Nicolas Messner, IJF Media and Communications Director, led a seminar with the national media. Over 50 representatives of the press, television and radio stations were present to review the basics of judo. The purpose of the seminar was to give main tools to the media so they could comment on the judo competitions. At the same time, the educational dimension of Judo and its pedagogical approach was also emphasized.
Finally, Gabriel Sapta, Head of the IJF Olympic Preparation Centre in Algiers, took charge of the judo technical dimension before the competition by leading a training course for coaches, and after it, by leading another judo clinic for the competitors. Other than the athletes that are already present in Algiers to prepare for the London 2012 Olympic Games, these workshops helped the young generation of African judo players to discover what is left to achieve in order to reach a higher level.
Meetings with the Minister of Sports
Appointed to his position only since January 11, 2012, Haikal Zakaria, is the new Chadian Minister of Youth and Sports. Therefore, the TIVI D’JAM was perfectly on time for the Minister to understand what judo can bring to his country. The IJF delegates and experts, led by Hedi Dhouib, representative of the President Marius L. Vizer and board member of the IJF, had the opportunity to meet four times with Zakaria, who clearly underlined that he would unfailingly support all sports that would show as much commitment as the Judo Federation.
“Judo Chad today makes everybody proud. When we see that we are about to qualify an athlete for the London Olympics, we must continue our efforts to put the odds on the side of our champion and support the development of judo in N’Djamena, but also the rest of the country,” said the Minister.
Karine Ngarlemdana, who is currently attending the IJF Olympic Preparation Center in Algiers, under the responsibility of Gabriel Sapta, is about to be the first athlete ever from her country to qualify for the Olympics. Even if the die is not yet cast (it will be the case after the African Championships in early March), all Chadian people are holding their breath.
During the meeting with the sports and political authority (Ministry of Sports, Prime Minister Administration, National Olympic Committee, National Institute of Sports…), Dhouib continually stressed the importance that must be given to the educational dimension of our activity: “Bring judo to schools! You can educate your youth through sport.” A message that the Chadian authorities were obviously susceptible to and that all the media echoed. Photos: Nicolas Messner