In their daily lives, people with disabilities all too often face stereotypes, stigma and discrimination, causing de facto exclusion from society. This stigma is linked to the belief that there is a social hierarchy based on one's abilities; disability being synonymous with inferiority. These people are often told what they cannot do and we forget everything they can do, especially judo.
Photos © EJU

The EJU Get Together event, organised last weekend in Venray, Netherlands, therefore aimed to focus on everything that was possible, whatever the disability situation. It was about abilities, determination and a state of mind without limits.

Judo is therefore particularly suitable for a wide range of abilities and conditions, from cerebral palsy to epilepsy, including autism, Down syndrome, cognitive learning disabilities, wheelchair dependency and many others. In Venray, however, there were no limitations, no 'no, it's not possible' and all the participants were able to demonstrate their passion and their abilities to practise the sport.

Photos © EJU

If the atmosphere was good-natured, the judoka were nonetheless competitors and they were very proud to participate on the one hand, but also to give the best of themselves on the other hand, all punctuated by all the emotions we expect at competitions. There were lots of smiles, tears of joy and hugs.

We must highlight the extraordinary role of the coaches, who do remarkable work throughout the year to prepare their athletes. It is above all a question of inclusion and not exclusion.

Photos © EJU

The Vice-President of the European Judo Union who is also responsible for the education sector, Mr Sergei Aschwanden, underlined, "I think it is impressive to see the number of nations and competitors we had here but what is the most interesting part is the atmosphere. It is about participating, despite wins or losses. They are focusing on components that we are forgetting too often. This is a good life lesson and brings your feet back down to earth."

Local organisers and representatives from EJU, IJF and the Azerbaijan Judo Federations. © Carlos Ferreira

For several days, judo demonstrated once again that it is an incredible tool for social integration. When one steps onto the tatami, it is no longer a question of difference, but rather of what unites us all within humanity, a humanity that focuses on mutual aid and mutual prosperity and sharing.

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