25 November 2023


EJU Get Together in Venray


Stereotyping, stigma, and discrimination are encounters people with disability face every day. Much of the disabled community faces exclusion from parts of society which others take for granted. Disability exclusion has stemmed from the belief that having a disability makes you ‘less than’. These individuals and their families are often told by medical professionals what they are never going to be able to do. Today was nothing like that. Today was about their abilities, their determination, their limitless mindset, from which, there is much to learn. Now, we officially mark the end of the shiai part of the first ever EJU Get Together event which showcased the Adaptive Judo community. 

Adaptive Judo covers a wide range of disabilities for example, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, down syndrome, cognitive learning disability, wheelchair dependency and many more… the list just goes on. Today, together, despite all conditions they are stamped with on paper, they showed their passion and abilities to do judo. 

Contempt the friendly atmosphere, these individuals took great pride and prestigiously fought through every single encounter. At the end, hugs, joyful tears, and a better appreciation of one and other decorated the complete imagine of Sporthal De Wetteling. Today, once again, judo proven its worth… Judo is More than Sport

Adaptive judo coach at Judo Team Fuji in Croatia, Sanja DELLADIO with her judoka, Petra. © Carlos Ferreira

Whilst we cherished all judoka, coaches have done an incredible job in preparing their athletes and supporting them on this inclusive journey. Adaptive judo coach at Judo Team Fuji in Croatia, Sanja DELLADIO sees no difference in coaching A-typical or special needs judoka, and believes one must be attentive regardless. 

I worked for over 10 years in both, adaptive and mainstream judo and having coached many kids I don’t see difference in a child with special needs or otherwise. For me, it is all about their abilities to do judo. We are teaching them judo and judo is universal, so it doesn’t matter what kind of disabilities they have. I love doing my job, it makes me very happy, and I believe that via judo every child has been given an opportunity to show the best part of themselves. With judo, they gain confidence and learn discipline. Of course, looking after a child with special needs probably comes with more responsibility if they have a medical condition for example, but to be honest, there are regular children who can be very savage and, so actually, sometimes it is the same load of responsibilities just presented in different tasks. I found that we need to vigilant regardless of condition or not.

EJU Vice President and leader of the Education sector, Mr Sergei ASCHWANDEN with Mia and Lana from Croatia. © Carlos Ferreira

The Vice President of the European Judo Union and leader of the Education sector, Mr Sergei ASCHWANDEN also enjoyed this significant marking whilst readily absorbed different abilities. 

I think it is impressive to see the number of nations and competitors we had here but what is the most interesting is the atmosphere. It is about participating, despite win or lose. They are focusing on components that we are forgetting too often. This is a good life lesson and brings your feet back to earth. 

Today’s success was a teamwork with lot of dedicated people. Having their confidence in me, and in each other as a team, allowed today to happen. A project like these needs patient and energy and it is not always easy to set up such. We have Marina Draskovic who oversees this project and had an enormous commitment to it. We have members who set all the rules up together, which I was not conscious of its’ complexity to bring all these entities together. We are aware that adjustments are to be made and will continue working to improve. For example, we used to high standards set ups which helps to shows the world what our sport is capable of, and I think that is something we can work on here too so that we make it far more attractive. This is not the destination. It is the first step, on which, we can build now. 

The results of today’s event can be viewed via https://uploads.eju.net/2023/09/Results-.pdf

For more images please visit https://www.eju.net/gallery/293771/293771/.

Author: Szandra Szogedi