Over a year ago the IJF began the lengthy process of applying for EU funding through the Erasmus remit, for a huge educational project, with the aim of rolling out a multi-nation, value-based, judo, education programme in schools all over Europe. Having the opportunity to enhance our existing provision, through the Erasmus+ funding, is an important new step.
In simplified terms, “Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.” (Erasmus+ website).
The IJF funding bid was successful and a year down the line things are getting exciting! A team of judo and education experts from all over Europe are contributing to creating a special, long-lasting, skeleton programme for teaching judo in schools, that will incorporate the social and emotional development of children, with our sport as the vehicle. This is a layered programme, though and requires a great deal of investigation and sensitive application, in order to make this accessible in every country, no matter the funding and education systems in play. The goal of the project is to place judo in the curriculum of schools throughout Europe and to educate teachers within a framework of judo values, while also providing positive career continuation for elite athletes as they retire from competition.
SchoolJudo.NL is a successful system for bringing together the academic setting with values-based judo delivery, running in the Netherlands under the leadership of 2007 world judo champion Ruben Houkes, for the last 16 years. Ruben is also Chair of the IJF Children Commission and he is therefore playing a key role in this project. His knowledge and experience is invaluable, providing the whole team with the confidence that this enormous task can be achieved.
Ruben is enthusiastic about these coming months, “The Erasmus+ grant is a collaboration grant. The subsidy is intended to develop innovative methods in the field of sport, at European level. We received this subsidy specifically to roll out the SchoolJudo programme in three different countries. To do this, we work together with the International Judo Federation (IJF), the IJF Academy and the national judo federations of Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. It’s an amazing opportunity to leverage the values of judo in Europe with the support of the Erasmus+ funding. It’s great to see all the initiatives already existing in each of the partner countries and to learn from each other. We are going to create a robust but flexible framework from which all national federations can benefit.”
The IJF Academy is now hard at work establishing an innovative new course for ‘Entertrainers:’ the coaches who will work in the schools. The Entertrainers will be trained to deliver the philosophical, practical and judo-based aspects of supporting the SchoolJudo.EU project and will give each coach an IJF Academy qualification. Many of these very special coaches will be Olympic and world medalists eager to share their experience. Judo has the unique ability to bring together its superstars with those taking their first steps into the sport, with a firm foundation of judo values linking all the pieces together.
Envic Galea, Chair of the IJF Academy said, “The IJF Academy is the teaching arm of the IJF. Judo is very popular with children and in fact the first course we prepared, now several years ago, was aimed at judo instructors. So, it is evident that one of the first EU funded projects the IJF Academy should propose, involves our collaboration with the IJF Children Commission. This SchoolsJudo.EU project, when launched, will be a tremendous step forward in the development of judo, with a heavy emphasis on education and child development, for children in Europe and around the world.”
IJF Chief Media and Marketing Officer Vlad Marinescu summarises the rationale and expected output, “The IJF is based in Hungary in the EU, so it makes sense that we can work together with the European Commission to create, refine and apply projects for the good of humanity. Together with the well established federations we have in every single country of Europe, we’re undertaking various programmes of development in schools and alternative education settings, using judo as a sport that can introduce values alongside physical activity, ensuring both the mental and physical health of our youth. I’m very proud that together with our national federations, partners and the EU, we are starting to unwind the SchoolJudo.EU model, for the betterment of society as a whole.