In early June 2024, Salima Souakri, IJF Development Director and member of the IJF Executive Committee, was on a mission to the 'Lycée International Alexandre Dumas' in Algiers. During this visit, she was able to meet the students and their teachers to talk about her journey as an athlete and a woman, about her struggles on the tatami but especially in life.

The meeting was organised as part of the operation 'Mai des Langues et de l’année Olympique' (May of Languages ​​​​and the Olympic Year). Salima, who was present in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago for the launch of the 'Self-Defence for Women' project (READ THE ARTICLE), thus continued to share the values ​​that have driven her all these years. (Read more about Salima Souakri's life: CLICK HERE)

"I told the students about my sporting, social and professional rise. I told them about my life from my first steps on a tatami to my appointment as a minister of the Algerian government. I explained to them how judo was useful for me as a woman, for my development, my success and especially my integration with our society.

I think that judo has a very important role and is an important vector of social integration. It can contribute greatly to the education of children through what discipline transmits and the values we find in the moral code of judo. I also add the act of surpassing oneself and also resilience because my life has always been a fight.

I remember very well, at the age of nine, when I expressed the wish to do judo, it was impossible in my family, in my neighborhood, in society. I had to fight all of this to achieve my childhood dream of being a champion. I cut my own hair and called myself 'Sali' to be allowed to do judo. The students laughed a lot.

It is very important to believe in yourself, to believe in your dreams and to move forward, to work, to have confidence and to persevere. The only secret is work and self-confidence but above all to dream because through judo I was able to achieve my wildest dreams.

I also told the students how judo contributed to my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and how it strengthened my self-esteem and self-confidence. Judo can be practised by everyone, without any discrimination. Unfortunately, many people in the world and in our society continue to believe that judo or certain sports are better suited to boys than girls. These are preconceived ideas because judo can be practised by everyone.

I explained that we are not born champions, we become champions with sweat and work. This is a principle of everyday life. This is what I learned through practising judo.

We talked about the Paris Olympic Games, this magical, important, global sporting event. I talked about my participation in four Olympic Games. I was the first Algerian woman to participate in 1992, at the age of 17. I talked about my role and my integration into the prestigious organisation that is the International Judo Federation, which is doing an extraordinary job promoting our discipline. I was able to share my record and especially how my title at the prestigious Paris Grand Slam was the first title for the African continent, men and women combined. It is a source of pride and pure happiness. Since then, women's judo in Algeria, in the Arab world and in the wider world has come a long way. There are now many more women practising judo. I am proud and I will continue to work for the promotion of judo in general and women's judo in particular."

The high school representatives declared, "Salima reminded us of the values ​​of sport, of judo precisely, and we applauded all the exploits and medals won. This allowed our students to finish their year well, in a great atmosphere. They were able to ask all their curious questions of this great champion, after she had taught them useful movements to protect themselves."

Paris Grand Slam gold medallist © France Judo

The testimonies of the participants or fans on social networks are eloquent of what this visit generated in their minds. "Salima is a great woman, always there to encourage and give advice. You are a modest and very generous woman," explained Rachida. "Thank you Salima, the children were super happy! My daughter was delighted to see a champion in front of her. It was a great experience, thank you," added Dalila, while Houria explained, "Ms. Salima Souakri, a brilliant, exceptional woman; she is truly unique.”

The students who had the chance to participate in this meeting with Salima Souakri came away energised, in no doubt that they now have new dreams that will allow them to move mountains.

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