23 June 2023



Author: Rok Rakun, Slovenian Judo Federation

As part of the Erasmus+ Be Judo Inclusive project, an event on the topic of inclusion in judo took place in Podčetrtek, Slovenia. 

The General Secretary of the European Judo Federation, Dr Martin POIGER, welcomed and addressed the gathering. He expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the project and the direction in which inclusive judo is developing. He said that it is important for him that all vulnerable groups can be included in the process of judo education. He was extremely happy that the Judo Federation of Slovenia is so active in all areas and that it is joining the European Judo Federation with new ideas and projects. During the seminar, he actively participated in the debate and gave the perspective of the European Judo Federation on certain aspects of the presentations.

He described the importance of inclusion in Judo and how it is developing within the European Judo Federation as follows, 

I can say that this is a very important area for the European Judo Federation, for our president Dr László TÓTH and for the entire executive committee, because it is about improving our society. Of course it is important for judo that it is an Olympic sport, that we win Olympic medals and that Europe is the strongest continent. But I think that if we want to continue to grow as a sport, we need to emphasise our importance to society and act inclusively. I am sure that that EJU is going in the right direction.That’s why we want to invest more effort in this area and we want to emphasise the importance of inclusion in judo.

EJU Vice President for Education Sergei ASCHWANDEN and his team invest a lot of energy in this area. Now we have two meetings at the same time, one in Poreč and one here in Podčetrtek, which already shows the importance of this area. I am sure that we will really take a step forward, so that we can combine our efforts to harmonise, for example, the rules, the educational aspects, the diverse offer, because judo is simply the best sport. I think this is the right strategic path for the European Judo Federation. We are currently working to really bring together best practices, whether in membership, licensing or elite sport. There is a lot of knowledge accumulated throughout Europe. As a continental federation, we are now working to collect these best practices and have them available for further implementation.

Dr Martin POIGER © Rok Rakun

We also need to find appropriate terms in the field of inclusion. Whether it’s adapted judo or it’s called inclusive judo, judo for special needs, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that there is a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, decades of experience, and we are now trying to collect it systematically and offer it to federations and clubs so that they can form new groups. This increases the importance of our sport in society.

The president of the Judo Federation of Slovenia, Lovrencij GALUF, thanked all the members of the project who came together and moved things in the field of inclusion in judo not only in Slovenia, but in all the members of the project.

President Lovrencij GALUF © Thea Cowen

In the first part, six speakers presented academic contributions in the field of inclusion in judo. The second part of the conference was devoted to the exchange of good practices in the field of current international and national projects. In conclusion, there was a round table on inclusion in judo and why it is important to have a uniform terminology in the field of inclusion in judo.

Dr. György Jády from Hungary also attended the seminar, the former sports director of the Special Olympics in Hungary said the following, 

The main goal of the Hungarian Special Olympics is to work for people with intellectual disabilities, to provide them with the possibility of supporting activities and the possibility of participating in competitions. If we know that sports are for people with disorders in mental development are also important from a social, physical and psychological point of view, we must pay special attention to this. Twenty years ago I started working as a sports director. At that time, society was not yet so open to integration. I think society is becoming more and more open and that is very important. We embrace diversity.

Dr. György Jády © Rok Rakun

This project is very important. When I first heard about inclusive judo, I was very worried about possible injuries. But when I first saw judo in these forms, I saw that it was fantastic. It is very important that information is spread throughout Europe, and this project helps with that. Here we met many valuable people who can train our athletes and pass on their knowledge. This event is a very important meeting point and I hope that we will continue this activity in the future.

The main goal of the Be Judo Inclusive project is to contribute to a better understanding of social inclusion in sport. Our starting point is where the doors of sports centres open to all athletes, regardless of their various abilities. It is important that we all contribute something in the community. We see the judo club as an ideal environment for social inclusion in and through sport.

We were led to the partnership in the Be Judo Inclusive project by long-term experience in the field of inclusive judo, lack of education in this field and insufficient opportunities for the development of social inclusion in judo.

The project is a response to the modern challenges of social inclusion in and through sport. We are aware of the lack of qualified trainers, lack of understanding of new inclusive content, presence of prejudices and a disorganised system support at local and national level.

Author: Thea Cowen