6 December 2023




Over the past two days, the European Judo Union organisation has arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, for both the 75th EJU Ordinary Congress and the European Club Championships 2023, and have been fortunate enough to visit local clubs and athletes, including the 2022 silver medallists, Red Star Judo Club.

Speaking with club and national team coach, Vladimir Jovicic, we learn a little more about the club, judo in Serbia, as well as goals of the national team in the upcoming year.

Expectations are always high, that’s all I can say about winning medals, of course we want the gold and that is our mindset, but you know in judo, predicting things is not such a good thing to do! I can always say that my guys are going to give their best and they will aim for gold.

We are so happy to be here, it has been so long since we have had an event at home for whatever reason, but now we’ve pulled it together and really have a great organisation. I think everyone will be satisfied because from volunteers to the president, everyone is excited and wants to show that Belgrade is a good host.

Although Jovicic speaks about Red Star, there will be four teams battling it out this weekend in the European Club Championships including; Partizan Kikinda, OJK Beograd and OJK Proleter Zrenjanin.

It is very good for Serbian judo because the popularity of judo is rising and that is the main thing, in front of medals and everything, the everyday person knows what judo is and even know some of the rules and can be cheering in the arena in Saturday, this is a big goal for us.

For many nations, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of practicing judoka fell, and while most have been struggling to accumulate members, this doesn’t seem to be an issue in Serbia thanks to strong support from government.

In Serbia, sport is really of high importance and the government support sports of any kind, mostly Olympic sports, so if you have some results and good organisation, you can receive financial support and infrastructure to make your sport popular. I think the people in judo have done this and so this is why judo is becoming so popular. We looked to countries who have implemented successful programmes in schools and in the military, and as we’ve managed to do this as well. I think from this day, looking forward five to ten years, common-people who didn’t train in judo will know some basic rules.

Although the focus is currently on Saturday and achieving some great results for the team, Jovicic is also looking beyond to the national team and the countdown to Paris 2024.

We have a really good year behind us, and this event will close out 2023 for the team, 2024 is special because of the Olympics and I’m happy because many Serbians will be participating, many Serbian judoka, and I’m happy about it because now we aren’t just aiming to qualify for the Olympics, we are looking for medals. You know, we are maybe a bit shy about it, looking for two medals, but even winning one is a big success for Serbia. I really believe we will get there, we will close off our Olympic list in April, when we finish the European Championships, in some weight categories we have two which is really good. We want to give them time to prepare for the Olympics and we believe this is enough time, and hopefully we’re going to get that medal.

Join us in this incredible annual championships at JudoTV.com this Saturday 9th December.

Author: Thea Cowen