The IJF Academy continues to travel around the world and above all continues to expand in order to offer its educational programmes to as many coaches as possible. The objective is simple: to harmonise the teaching of judo in order to gradually increase the level of knowledge and practice of teachers. Recently, Academy officials stopped in Cuba, where the establishment of a programme is underway. With the support of Dr Antonio Castro, Chair of the IJF Medical Commission and IJF Ambassador, the programme will soon see the light of day. Present in Paris on the occasion of Grand Slam Paris 2023, he explains the importance of such an initiative.

"We really had good meetings with the IJF Academy leaders when they were in Cuba. They met with the National Olympic Committee and with the Ministry of Sport officials. We discussed possibilities to find resources to run the course. First, 5 Olympian judoka will be selected and 40 coaches who are involved with the cadet, junior and senior national teams. It's a first step but an important one. The Cuban authorities showed great interest.

During the stay of Envic Galea, Director of the Academy and Tibor Kozsla, Education Director of the institution, they had the opportunity to present what they are doing at the international level. Thus they met with a group of more than 200 people, all involved with the development of judo in the country. They explained the importance of being accredited by the Academy as a coach. For the first time, they could get an idea of the significance of the 100 techniques taught by the Academy experts and have a better understanding of all refereeing matters.

Judo is more than a sport. It has a strong culture, a long history and a powerful philosophy. This is what Cuban judo needs to embrace. Our country has also a long judo history but we can go further and we need to think about the future.

This is what the IJF and its academy is doing, preparing the future. I believe that after the meeting in Cuba, we all have a better understanding of the route that we need to follow. It's a first step but there will be many others.

As IJF Ambassador, this is my commitment and my duty to help the process. It's a big challenge and I am confident that we will go down this road with the world judo family.

To be concrete, the plan is now to start the course at the beginning of March and once this is done, we will organise the practical session in Cuba. Once we have our first coaches graduated, we will continue to work for the betterment of Cuban judo but also worldwide judo."

Antonio Castro knows it, the challenge is big, but this is why it will be successful, because everyone is committed and everyone will do their utmost to make sure that step by step, Cuban judo will lead the development of the sport in the region.

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