Educational, The IJF’s World Judo Tour recently arrived in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the first time and either side of those Judo Grand Prix events, the IJF ensured a lasting legacy would be left at the grassroots level by hosting five judo clinics.
Sporting Events and Education are Combined to Increase the Popularity of Judo
Marius Vizer, IJF President, decided last year to use all IJF events as a vehicle to promote judo at all levels in the host country with developmental and educational activities penetrating all levels of the Olympic sport. Almost 800 children took part in the IJF’s back-to-back activities in Asia, with clinics taking place in the Grand Prix host city of Almaty (KAZ), Chimkent (KAZ), the Grand Prix host city of Tashkent (UZB), Bukhara (UZB) and Samarkand (UZB). The IJF delegation was comprised of Mohamed MERIDJA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, Mohamed AZZOUG, Assistant to MERIDJA, Nicolas MESSNER, IJF Media and Communications Director and Mohammad DERAKHSHAN, JUA Education Commissioner.
These events were made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Judo Federations who were represented by their leading judoka and key officials. In Kazakhstan, Askhat ZHITKEYEV, Vice president of the Kazakh Judo Federation, Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2001 World bronze medallist was joined by two-time Olympic bronze medallist and two-time World champion, Rishod SOBIROV. Kazakhstan’s latest prodigy, Bauyrzhan ZHAUYNTAYEV, the 2013 Cadet World Championship winner, also featured. ZHITKEYEV and Rishod SOBIROV were also present in Uzbekistan. Each clinic consisted of a presentation of the judo values, their application in a training session, a judo demonstration by a champion and a question and answer session with the guests along with signatures and photographs.
First Stop in Almaty
The first clinic took place in Kazakhstan which has 18 to 20,000 judoka and the sport is growing in all regions. National hero and 2013 Almaty Grand Prix winner, Maxim RAKOV, famously won the world title in 2009 to boost the participation figures and the sports exposure. Judo and fellow Olympic sports of boxing, wrestling and football are the country’s most popular sports. Judo’s growth in the country is set to accelerate after their first Grand Prix which provided a taster of what the judo world can expect from the 2015 World Championships in the capital city of Astana.
All Generations were Present
Teenager Bauyrzhan ZHAUYNTAYEV will be among the country’s growing ranks who are dreaming of competing in Astana when the city hosts the sport’s annual showpiece. The 16-year-old took up judo at the age of 10 after seeing it on TV. “I was interested in judo because I saw it on TV but I had no friends or relatives doing judo, so I decided to go the club on my own,” said ZHAUYNTAYEV. “I’m training 10 times a week in the sports school of Kyzylorda (my hometown) with 40 other teammates.
“I was very proud to become Cadet world champion and I had a lot of media interest after winning the title. But now I want to be an Olympic champion and next year I will take part in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.”
ZHAUYNTAYEV is keenly aware of the judo values that the sport has instilled in him on and off the tatami. “By practicing judo I have learned a lot, but the first thing is to respect the opponent. That’s what I want to transmit to the young judoka that I met during these education training sessions. I believe that I will become a teacher and a coach for children after my sports career. Beside judo I like to read about sports, but mainly about judo. All my life is dedicated to judo.”
The delegation arrived for the first training session at the Dostuk Centre, close to the Judo Grand Prix venue, on 25 September. More than 80 judoka were present and enjoyed practicing judo and hearing about judo values, philosophy and history.
Good Collaboration with the Armed Forces
The second clinic was held in the mountain suburbs at Arystan (lion) Military Lyceum with an altitude of 2250m on 26 September. The school opened two years ago and welcomes youngsters who want to enter the military. The head coach participated in the organisation of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games as the chief of the tatami. The school has several contracts with armed forces and the level of studying is set very high with judo installed as part of the curriculum twice a week. For the moment only boys coming from whole Kazakhstan attend with 240 students in total and they are all doing martial arts. The best students are doing judo which is relatively new to their programme.
More than 30 judoka took part but all the students were present in the stands closely watched the action on the tatami. Olympic silver medallist, Askhat ZHITKEYEV, underlined the importance of teaching young judo practitioners about the history of judo and the integral values which are exhibited on a daily basis at dojos all around the world. “I think it is a very good educational programme for the children and I am happy that a lot of them attended,” he said. “It is good for them to better understand the history of judo, the respect and it is very good for the teachers and the coaches as well, who can discover new methods. It gives more power to the children to believe in the benefits of judo.”
Judo in Chimkent
The third clinic was held at a sports centre in Chimkent city on 30 September. Chimkent is one hour from Almaty by plane and the country’s southern region has three million inhabitants. The latest activity in Kazakhstan, which is among the 10 biggest countries in the world, was held at their brand new sports centre which was a unique feature in the country because there are facilities for many sports while in other regions only one or two sports coexist. The government and private sector financed the centre as local authorities want athletes to come and stay.
On the occasion of the judo session, buses were organised to bring more than 200 children from the whole south region of Kazakhstan. The Minister of Sports of South Kazakhstan, Alibek NURTAEV, was present during the whole day of judo activities. “I am very pleased to see the IJF delegation coming to our region and spending time with our youth for the development of sports and especially of judo in our country,” he said. “We have a great sports centre here in Chimkent and I am really happy to see so many children and young athletes. They really enjoyed the judo session, they have learned a lot and had the opportunity to meet with great champions.”
After Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
The first judo clinic in Uzbekistan was held at the Sports Center in Tashkent, just prior to the Grand Prix. Almost 20 sports are present in the center, and judo is among the most popular. This first session attracted the media who were covering the competition.
Rishod Sobirov’s School
The second judo session in Uzbekistan, took place in the Alat Olympic Sports Boarding School in Boukhara, the country’s fifth largest city with a population of 263,000, on 7 October, following the success Judo Grand Prix, Tashkent 2013. In a small city located 60km from Bukhara, Bukhara District, 90 children took part in the session while six coaches from the school were present. Headmaster, Rustam TURAEV, who was in attendance, is responsible for the 170 pupils at the school which opened on 20 March 1995. 90 children practice judo at the school which has 14 teachers and 10 sports coaches. The school has received several awards from the President of the Republic for its academic and sports results.
The IJF delegation were given a guided tour of the classrooms, conference hall where portraits of all their Olympic and world medallists line the walls and saw the new dojo which will be completed in November and will accommodate 120 to 150 athletes. The dojo construction has been financed by public funds.
The sport is widely known for its exemplary sporting success and the honours reel includes 27 world titles, 28 Asian Championships titles along with two Olympic bronze medals courtesy of Rishod SOBIROV. SOBIROV, was a pupil from 1998 to 2004. The headmaster of the school was the head coach when SOBIROV arrived in the school. In 2004, SOBIROV registered at the Sports Faculty of Bukhara and in 2010 was recognised as the best judo player in the world after an unbeaten streak from July 2010 to January 2012.
Large Success in Samarkand
The sixth and final clinic (after Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) took part at the Olympic Preparation Centre in Samarkand on 8 October. The centre opened its doors in 2004 and in the same year hosted the National University Games with an outdoor stadium for 14,000 spectators. More than 200 children from two Olympic schools and several judo clubs of the Samarkand region took part in judo clinic with more than 200 spectators transfixed on the tatami. The facility will undergo renovation work next year. Local authorities underlined that the interest for judo is growing very fast due to the good results of the local judoka at the national and international level.
The IJF delegation visited the handball venue, boxing gym, dojo, fitness and medical centre along with the football stadium and four swimming pools. The distinguished officials in attendance included Armen BAGDASAROV, President of the Uzbek Judo Federation, Shuhrat RUZIYEV, Deputy Director for Sports of the Samarkand Region, Rusta MAXMUDOV, Director of the Olympic Preparation Centre and Jamol SHODERNOV, head coach of the Samarkand district.
Judo was Present Everywhere on TV
Bagdasarov said: “Judo was everywhere on TV and in the media during the whole week and not only because of the Grand Prix, but also because of the educational activities. It is good for our young judoka to meet the champions. They love Rishod Sobirov. We also had a very good collaboration with our neighbouring country, Kazakhstan. Askhat ZHITKEYEV came especially for that occasion and it is really appreciated. Of course I also would like to thank the IJF delegates, my colleague from the Executive Committee, Mohamed Meridja, and also Mohamed AZZOUG, Nicolas Messner from the Media Department and Mohammad Derakhshan from the JUA for all their efforts. What I will remember forever is that with those excellent programs organised by the IJF, we put a big smile on the faces of the children and today they started a new dream.”
Mohamed MERIDJA said: ““It is important for the IJF to come to meet the judoka in all countries. The Grand Prix gave us the opportunity to organise a strong educational tour through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both federations did a fantastic job to help us to organise the programme. All together we met almost 800 children on the tatami. But parents were there too, teachers, local authorities and media. This is fantastic for our sport and for the national federation which can develop strong educational program based on what we discussed. As our President, Marius VIZER, often says, beyond everything judo is education. That is exactly what we want to promote.” —- Photos © IJF Media by Nicolas Messner