For decades Somalia has lived in chaos, the result of bloody wars, rampant famines and natural disasters. The hope that seemed to have left the country is nevertheless slowly returning and bringing a new lease of life. One of these hopes concerns the small community of Somali judoka who, although they have to do everything with nothing, continue to live through their passion for the sport.

While the best of the world’s juniors gathered on Olbia's tatami last week, the Somali Judo Federation held a national competition at the premises of the National Judo Centre, where training usually takes place.

Four clubs located in the Banaadir region, which covers the area around the capital of Mogadishu, joined the event. Although the current political situation in Somalia is complicated due to the proximity of the elections, there are today more than 60 judoka who practise actively and regularly, although this number is undoubtedly even higher according to the federation.

While waiting for a new government to be established and for support from international bodies, judo therefore continues to live in Somalia, despite the difficulties. There are many needs in terms of infrastructure, coaching, referees and management, with the objective being to promote the practice of judo throughout the territory.

The competition organised recently, it is certain, will promote the values of judo, circulating these codes within their communities, in a country that needs it so much.

We have documented the efforts of many African nations, with federations taking huge strides towards a more structured delivery of judo activity, using judo as a vehicle for change and hope. Somalia’s judo community may be small but it is determined. In that climate of social, political and economic hardship, that is obligatory. With Malawi, Zambia and many other countries working in the same vein, Africa is an exciting continent, with a vision of huge expansion and judo plays a key role in so many communities.

See also