Judo for Peace South Africa is a programme funded by the International Judo Federation in collaboration with UNHCR. In South Africa the main partners are Nike, Three2Six, Future Families, Grassroots Soccer and Judo South Africa.
Robert Orlando explains further, “As for today, we are present in Johannesburg with 7 clubs: Berea, Rosettenville, Kempton Park, Alexandra, Vosloorus, Brixton and Soweto. There are also 5 schools and other satellite clubs in Durban and Cape Town.
Our vision is to fulfill the dream of Jigoro Kano Shihan to offer a brighter future to young people through the teaching of judo, with mutual aid and benefit, towards building a better society. Judo for Peace South Africa is a platform for communities to meet, collaborate and contribute to social cohesion, youth and gender empowerment and child protection within both local and refugee communities.
Judo for Peace South Africa is active in many places. In recent months, for instance, the Klipspruit Sports Centre in Soweto welcomed judo as one of many activities offered to young people. Thus, with the support of Nike and the Made to Play programme, judo is now taught in Soweto, the beating heart of Johannesburg.
To give a little bit of background, Soweto is maybe the most well known township of the country and definitely the oldest one as it roots go back to the 19th century. As part of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng, South Africa, the district borders the city's mining belt in the south. Its name is an English syllabic abbreviation that stands for South Western Townships. It was the centre of many riots and protests in past decades and still remains a place with complex social issues.
It is in that context that on 28th October, children celebrated World Judo Day happily, incorporating the theme of inclusion. The dojo is home to children and youth of different nationalities, who learn to work together. This represents a fundamental step for social cohesion in the region.
In Alexandra Township, one of the other locations for JFPSA, the programme works on changing the perceptions of refugees and migrants in the eyes of local communities, a safe space being a key for child protection. Every Thursday is a full judo training day, with classes beginning in the morning and running throughout the day. Food is also provided.
More recently self-defence was also promoted, to foster social inclusion. At the Observatory Primary and Holy Family College, judo is taught to children coming from different backgrounds. There, the Three2Six programme and Judo for Peace promote social inclusion by encouraging refugees and local South African children to train together and
learn from each other.
In order to give more power and strength to the ongoing activities and as it was already reported on the IJF website, Roberto Orlando together with Nicolas Messner, Head of the Judo for Peace Commission, participated in the Nike EMEA Partner Summit in the Netherlands at the beginning of November (https://www.ijf.org/news/show/nike-emea-partner-summit-partnership-and-success). On that special occasion, Claire Richter, Social and Community Impact at Nike in South Africa, had the opportunity to meet the IJF Judo for Children/Judo in Schools commissions, enjoying an extensive presentation of the work done globally to include judo in the school curriculum. There is no doubt that it will have a positive impact on the afore-mentioned activities.”
All these elements show how judo can help rebuild a society. It is a team effort and it requires time and patience but it works. Judo for Peace South Africa sends us regular news updates from the tatami, news that always warms our hearts.