There are almost 300 judoka from over 25 countries travelled to Venray for the first ever EJU Get Together event. It is the first adaptive competition with the support of the EJU, however, most attendees have been involved in this project for decades. Two overseas countries, Brazil and Japan, travelled over 30 hours to partake with some of them spending shorter time in the country than up in the air.
Coach and Physiotherapist of the Brazilian Adaptive Judo Team, Mr. Julio Cesar Arau Jo has 20 years of experience in this specialised field. Their team gathered from different spots of Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro Sao Paolo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Travelling with disability, especially for wheelchair users is not a straightforward process and requires greater extent of time, planning, safety precautions, understanding and obliging by the rules of each airline whilst organising a sum of paperwork. All in all, it is indubitably not the case of rocking up to the gates with a cup of coffee, therefore, the presence of these nations is remarkably appreciated. Mr. Cesar Arau Jo explains further,
The group we have here, some of them already participated at international events for others it is their first time. In Brazil judo is very strong at the clubs and the country is big in size so it is very difficult to create interaction amongst them on a regular basis. Some manages by sponsorship from political side, private sector, and the clubs. As per the travel, it was a long journey. We flew via Zurich and Dusseldorf before driving to Venray. We are slightly at ease thought as almost all athletes have a family member with them which is reassuring for us. Judo is family after all.
He goes on to discussing the tournament;
The organisation here is excellent, the atmosphere is very friendly, yet we are not losing the competition side so it’s great. We organise regular adaptive judo tournaments locally across different parts of Brazil. My city (Centro Mano Imperatriz) is the same size as Venray, and I am eager to host an event as such.
It was a dream for the Brazilian team to return to the Netherlands after a decade and will make the most of their lengthy journey before heading back home on Tuesday, after some well-deserved tourist activities. The Japanese team went through a similarly experience, travelling via Istanbul and Dusseldorf to join this unique gathering. The team is supported on site by the Japanese ambassador in the Netherlands, His Excellency Mr. MINAMI Hiroshi, who is rather impressed of the event;
I would like to extend my sincere thanks for the invitation, and I am very happy to be in this town. I am very impressed about the competition and the activities which have been going on for 25 years. In terms of judo, the Netherland is a special country because in 1964 at the first Olympic Games in Tokyo, Anton Geesink was a champion and whilst it was shocking to the Japanese it was also when judo really became international sport. Once again, thank you for the invitation, I am looking forward to watch the rest of the event.
Author: Szandra Szogedi