From 20th to 26th November 2023, Saudi Arabia witnessed a new evolution in its development of judo, as the first practical session of the IJF Academy took place successfully in the country's capital, Riyadh. The session was held in the facility of the Mahd Academy, responsible for educating grassroots talents which also has a judo section.

The IJF Academy project dates back about a year, when at the request of IJF President Marius Vizer, the first initiatives to develop judo in the region were put in place. Thus, a first refereeing seminar and an refereeing exam were led by Florin Daniel Lascau, Head Refereeing Director, and Juan Carlos Barcos. "It was a first step and it was important because we realised that to have quality refereeing, we also need to have a good knowledge of the judo techniques. It was this first observation which led to launching the Academy. This joint work including all dimensions of judo from teaching to refereeing and competition is the guarantee of successful development. This is what is currently happening in Saudi Arabia and throughout the region", explains Florin Daniel Lascau.

Mark Huizinga

The group, made up of 48 participants, including 31 Saudis and 17 coaches from other countries who are working in Saudi Arabia, was able to fully express themselves and validate the modules necessary to obtain the precious diplomas. Guham Cho (KOR), world champion and Olympic silver medallist (Tokyo 2021), who is now working as the KSA national coach, was among the participants.

The objective of the federation was clearly stated by the president of the federation, Abdulaziz Albassam, “We want all club and federation coaches to be IJF Academy certified.”

Envic Galea, Director of the IJF Academy, said, “Mahmood Alaradi, an alumnus of the academy, Ahmed Badmy and Hassan Alanssari, CEO of the federation, organised the sessions excellently. We now expect a substantial number to join the UDJM (Undergraduate Diploma in Judo Management) course. We were really pleased with the good level of judo from all participants.

Olympic Solidarity (OS) supported the sessions and we had the privilege of visiting the National Olympic Committee to discuss how the NOC could further help the development of judo in the country. Together with OS, the IJF Academy offered to help with an all-women coaching UCJI course.

Envic Galea and Abdulaziz Albassam

We also had discussion with the federation on how the IJF Academy could further help in the continued organisation of judo in the KSA.”

The sessions were indeed very productive. Between the course and examination, the visit and meetings organised during the stay of the IJF experts, the schedule was full. For instance, Sergeant Mohammed Almotairi, one of the attending students, organised appointments with the army and navy sectors, where judo is already present and where most national team competitors originate, opening new possibilities for the development of judo.

The IJF experts

For the participants, the practical sessions were amazing moments with some of the top judo experts in the world, including Shinji Hosokawa, Mark Huizinga, Slavisa Bradic, Ramadan Darwish, Envic Galea, Tibor Kozsla, Franck Moussima and Kenichi Shoshida.

The federation declared, “It was the very first time in history that KSA hosted the IJF Academy practical sessions and we are eager to do it more and more in the years to come.”

Happy birthday Kenichi Shoshida

After the success of the organisation of the judo event during the recent World Combat Games and the good results of the KSA team at the 2023 Veterans World Championships in Abu Dhabi, the KSA Judo Federation is reaching a new level. The IJF Academy arrived in Saudi Arabia and it’s already a sign of future success!

Meeting with the NOC
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