On the occasion of the World Judo Day, we invite you to travel to Namibia, where the IJF Judo in Schools programme has been running for several months. Namibia is one of those countries we do not talk about very much. In the heart of southern Africa, the country is best known for its sumptuous landscapes, amazing wildlife and ancient peoples. However, for several months, judo has also been very active in the country.

Thus, the International Judo Federation is involved in an extensive Judo in Schools programme. We asked Cornelius 'Stompie' Matthyser, coach of the activities, to tell us a bit more about the great adventure he's going through, while Ruben Houkes, head of the IJF Judo for Children commission, tells us why Judo in Schools is so important in Namibia and in the world.

Stompie arrived in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia on May 1, 2018, from South Africa: “During the first months, I Had to get lots of things in place, with the schools and school principals, and I also had to organise my work permit. I also worked with clearing everything for the IJF donations to arrive in the country. In the meanwhile I was helping the existing clubs, such as the Namibia Judo club and the German school in Windhoek. I was teaching judo in the afternoon and evening."

Stompie used that time also to start promoting the Judo in schools programme and he had regular meetings with school Principals: “The IJF tatami arrived at the end of September 2018. All transport operations, customs clearance and 400km delivery to Windhoek from Walvisbay went flawless. All the weeks of personal planning and getting a sponsor from DBSchenker made it all posible, so in mid October 2018 the IJF judo in schools Namibia was officially launched and broadcasted on National TV NBC. It's been one year since the inception that it has been running.“

There are currently 7 schools having judo classes on a weekly basis and 2 more schools in the taster phase (exposure and intro classes), that will start the programme next year. Judo classes are proposed in 4 schools during school time and 3 schools are doing judo after school: “I mainly focus on the safety of the children and the basic fundaments to develop in the future proper judo skills. Judo is under the umbrella of social skills development for children. So far we had more than 1,700 children who were exposed to judo and more are coming. All principals of the 7 full-time schools are involved in the process and all sports coordinators join the judo classes and form part of IJF judo in schools programme. This way, the teachers learn all the judo values and promote the sport. The sports coordinators have also the possibility to train judo in an evening adult class."

Recently, Stompie initiated the Namibia Judo Schools league where all the schools compete im a team event: “The 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams receive medals and the winning team holds the trophy of the winning school team. This inter-schools event takes place every school term from now on and forward.“

The man is passionate about judo and is happy to share his experience: “I have been so blessed in life to learn from the best all over the world. My experience in teaching judo in schools goes back to 1986. Its like growing a flower and taking care of it. The schools are so wonderful. I am happy when the players are happy and the parents are too. Still, everyday is a challenge, but i love my job, I love kids, I love judo and I love to make something from nothing. People here don't really know about judo, so I have to convince them that this is the best that can happen to their children. The only way is to show the adults that their children need judo, especially the safety dimension of the sport. This is our gold card: to show that through judo, we can create better people.“

The fact that thanks to the IJF support, Stompie could offer the judo sessions to the schools for free and do all advertising in schools free of charge ... was a big plus: "I'm getting a monthly salary from the IJF and this helped me to be able to develop and build the IJF judo in Schools programme. Because judo was free, I could expose the whole school to judo and give all children a chance to feel and be part of our wonderful sport. Creating the Namibia judo schools association and have the Ministry of Education on board and all Principals was the best thing ever!“

The Namibia Judo Federation is not a big federation compared to other judo association on the world. The sport has been kept alive thanks to the dedication of a few passionate members for the last 26 years: “The Federation is not big enough to invest money in a programme like that and they can't afford to have a full time coach like me. This is one of the reasons why we needed to create the judo in schools programme to generate numbers for the future of Judo in Namibia.

"Soon the first yellow belts will be awarded and we are planning on having judo animations with the neighboring countries (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia). I would love to see every 2nd person greeting me on the street and say that they know about judo and about the IJF judo in schools programme in Namibia. The IJF is the biggest partner in the Judo in schools Namibia project. Nothing would have been possible without the support of the IJF“, concluded Stompie.

Ruben Houkes then explained how the IJF is actually supporting Stompie and the programme in Namibia and what impact such a programme can have: “The IJF sponsored an IJF Accredited Judo Coach (Cornelius Stompie Matthyser) and offered 7 tatami and 250 judo suits. The IJF Judo for Children Commission offers dedicated support in setting up a sustainable and uniform programme. This includes support for the coach with guidelines, materials and exercises. It is part of the global IJF Judo in Schools programme which has the aim to make judo an integral part of the educational development of children up to 12 years old, instilling values like honor, respect and friendship.“

"Although each country has its own specific situation, the Judo for Children Commission believes there are some fixed stepping stones to set up a successful programme. That’s why IJF Judo in Schools uses a step-by-step scheme that offers something to fall back on when setting up the programme. The three standards steps to be taken are Scan, Develop & Action. In the Scanning period we collect background information from the main parties of the programme. Based on that, we initiate a project and an action plan for the Development period. What follows is the Action period. This is about the day-to-day implementation and coordination of the youth judo programmes, including on-boarding the teachers, involving the schools, the press, etc. During the whole period the JfC commission provides the basic guidelines, tools, brand and structure which are adopted on a local level by the national federations. Each programme is delivered differently, and adapted to fit the environment, condition, and status of the corresponding country.“

“Jigoro Kano founded judo as a structure for mental and physical education. His ultimate vision was to create a better society through the values of the sport. Today, the society has a lot of challenges, like violence, gender equality, lack of respect, bullying, etc. The values and ethics of judo are still very actual for this world and today’s society. We see that when a programme is successfully implemented, it helps the children not only on the tatami, but also in the classroom and at home.“

“The methodology of the IJF Judo in Schools activities can be seen as Physical and Mental Education. It’s a grassroots programme and the first goal of the IJF Judo in Schools is to teach children skills for life. Children learn not only basic judo skills, but also essential motor and social skills. With the programme, more children get introduced to judo and can grow in love with the sport. On a longer term, it will help countries to develop the sport nationally and eventually create the new champions.“

Today the IJF Judo in Schools programme is rapidly growing. At the moment they are more than 43 countries which are setting up new programmes. Namibia is one of them and is a good example on how judo can help to develop a better world.

Read more about the programme: https://schools.ijf.org/

The IJF Judo for Children commission wishes a happy World Judo Day to every child in the world.

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