Indeed. “All the funds JFP generates from selling its merchandise goes to charitable projects worldwide were judokas can benefit with much needed judogis or tatamis they cannot afford,” says Project Manager Miikka Neuvonen, who together with Esa Niemi, Commissioner for the IJF Judo for Peace Commission, is present in Paris to promote the brand.
As judo has become one of the most practiced sports around the world, IJF decided to establish a special ‘Judo for Peace Commission’ to promote the idea of Peace, in order to build a better society in all its forms and in all parts of the world. It's a solid fact that many of the problems of today’s world are caused by poverty and unemployment, by masses of young people ending up in a state of meaningless inaction, isolation, and life with no purpose.
Judo has proved a very good remedy for all this. By spreading the all-important message of peace, peaceful contending, by presenting tatamis and judo outfits, by organizing Judo training schools, camps and courses, by hiring qualified training staff, judo has proved a simply magnificent tool against young people facing exclusion.
“Hence, ‘Judo for Peace’ is a very important initiative for IJF and we wanted to help and therefore created the webshop for T-shirts, sweaters, pins, even baby wear with the JFP logo to generate these funds for projects around the world, especially in remote areas, such as Alaska or the Canadian Arctic circle, but also projects in refugee camps or other initiatives in Africa. We just wanted to help”, says Miikka. “The JFP Commission is always coming up with new initiatives to help out. I hope judo fans will discover the webstore online. Currently, here at the Paris Grand Slam, we have mounted a pop-up store to make people aware of what we do. We plan to be present at seven competitions on the international calendar of this year.”
The webshop was launched a year ago. “We informed all national judo federations and we hope that the judo community will start ordering the Judo for Peace merchandise in large quantities. It’s a cool way to promote judo and of course there is the peace aspect. Another important fact is that all products we sell are from the Danish brand ‘Neutral’, one of the best ecological brands in the world. So, sustainability is a forte here while just helping to make the world a bit of a better place.”
The international judo community has responded positively. “Nonetheless, we haven’t seen this positive feedback translated into considerable quantities of purchase. Therefore, we are trying to promote the purchases of JFP merchandise via the website. Federations or clubs can also brand the items with their logo.”
“Everybody looks at the items and likes them at the events, but that’s not enough. The Events serve as a promotional tool, but the main thing is the webshop which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also accepts all international payment methods,” explains Miikka.
Next stop for the pop-up store is the European Games in Minsk, Belarus and the IJF Worlds in Tokyo, Japan. “We will also be at the European Junior Championships in Finland, adds Esa Niemi. “Next to the fact that the money generated from selling the JFP merchandise is used for buying judogis and tatamis for those judokas in need, the fundamentals of the judo sport are also a valuable tool for life while judo itself is a very good educational tool as well.”
JFP is a program that actually works. “It really does,” claims Miikka. “Today we notice that athletes hailing from those rough areas are now competing in the world circuit. Moreover, sport unites people. Take Burundi as an example for instance. Hutus and Tutsis now train together, which was unthinkable before. Sport unites people. Judo is simply a way to educate.”
If you are interested in buying JFP merchandise while helping out bringing judo to those in need, surf to the JFP dedicated website www.judoforpeace.net or click on the JFP banner on the IJF website. Federations or clubs interested in purchasing large quantities of JFP merchandise can find Miikka Neuvonen’s contact details on the website.
“Instead of honoring your best athletes with a trophy this year, why not with a personalized JFP t-shirt for a change?,” ends Mikka.