Ivan Galiwango from the Uganda Judo Association explained, "The programme hasn't been officially launched but we already established training sessions in all the schools on 18th July. Our goal is to have the children learn the first skills and the discipline that they will be able to showcase at the official launch. During the event, the government’s National Sports Council representatives will be invited, it will be a big occasion."
In total, from all ten schools involved, we have registered 350 children so far. We have met a few challenges with parents thinking that judo is a martial art and could be dangerous for the children. Showcasing activities in school and through the media, we are removing that negative mindset and the sport is now being embraced and is becoming well favoured.
For the moment we are holding two judo sessions per week in eight schools and one session per week in the two other schools. Our main barrier to having more sessions is a lack of tatami. We are waiting for the IJF tatami to be released by customs. At the moment we are talking with authorities with the aim of securing the equipment as soon as possible.
The Judo in Schools programme in the short term will yield awareness about judo as a sport. For the moment, the sport is not very popular in Uganda but it will get better and better. In the long run, judo will be embraced as a popular sport providing job opportunities for the youth. The skills and discipline learned in judo will help greatly, also for self-defence. Judo as a sport keeps one physically fit at all ages, hence creating a healthy society.
For the moment, we have 80 judoka registered with the Uganda Judo Association, in the capital, Kampala, and approximately 300 extra judoka are registered in different clubs spread around the country.
Our objectives are: to make judo a popular sport in Uganda, to provide employment for the youth so that they can improve their standard of living, to consolidate international relations between Uganda and other countries worldwide through judo, to instill discipline and fitness among people of all ages in our society, to create a conducive environment for those who are physically impaired so that they can interact freely with others through para judo.
We truly believe that judo can help the population to obtain jobs, to learn important skills and improve discipline. We want to participate in international events because it will also help to spread the judo values among our population.
We are moving on with judo nationwide and I am happy to report a positive turn out for new members joining the various clubs. Once we are able to acquire the two containers with the tatami, we shall be fully set. We also need to work with the coaches to make sure they have the right skills. Otherwise, the project, the Judo in Schools programme is on the move smoothly and we are happy about it."
Judo in Schools is only one dimension of the development of judo in any country but an important one that will help the future generations to have a brighter future. Uganda is definitely on the right path. Through the initiative, the number of judo players will increase as well as their skills and the impact on the local communities will soon or later be visible.