March 2022 has been a busy month for the judo family in the Southern hemisphere, with Sensei Johannes and Regina Daxbacher visiting South Africa and Lesotho, bringing their support to the judo family in this charming part of the world.

Johannes and Regina are not new to Africa, see the Judo for Ethiopians-project: Their visit was marked by unforgettable judo moments and experiences. 

For Judo for Peace South Africa, led by coach Roberto Orlando and the Lesotho Judo Association, the visit of the two German judo teachers has been a unique occasion, to bring together judo lovers and share experiences on the tatami.

The visit to Lesotho was a joint initiative of the Senior Expert Services (SES) of the German government and the IJF Judo for Peace project and in addition, the two coaches used their free time to visit Lesotho and share their lifelong judo experience with the newly established Lesotho Judo Association.

The three days in Maseru were punctuated by several meetings, soon followed by intense judo-based seminars: • Judo for Police: using judo as a tool for intelligent conflict resolution for police forces • Judo for the youth: sport judo and competitive judo • Judo for women: self-defence against gender-based violence

The encounters with the Lesotho Judo Association, the Police Technical College and the National Olympic Committee have marked an important milestone for the country as the judo values were fully embraced by the participants and the decision was taken to further the development of a programme for local coaches in Lesotho.

Regina Daxbacher appreciated the great dedication of the young judo generations, especially the girls with their endless energy on the tatami.

Johannes Daxbacher, head of the IJF Police Commission, received great interest from the police officers present, to implement some judo techniques as a softer possibility for intervention cases. Plans for the future inclusion of judo as a peace-making tool were also adopted after a meeting with the Refugee and Migration Liaison Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs who welcomed the introduction of judo as a social cohesion platform for the integration of Lesotho’s migrants and refugees with local communities. According to Roberto Orlando, “The Judo for Peace programme in Lesotho offers great opportunities for the development of society.”

Before this emotional visit to Lesotho, Regina and Johannes Daxbacher also spent some time in South Africa to support the IJF Judo for Peace South Africa programme. Roberto Orlando explained, “From 20th February to 12th March 2022, I had the great pleasure to welcome Regina and Johannes, who ably supported this important humanitarian judo project. We’ve known each other for a long time, since Regina and Johannes started the Judo for Ethiopians project and they gave me the motivation,m and opportunity to begin my work with the IJF Judo for Peace programme. Also, in 2020 Johannes organised for 200 judo mats and lots of judo uniforms from German judo clubs to be transported to South Africa with the financial support of UNHCR. They are being used by our refugees.”

During their stay in South Africa the visitors had a busy programme including: • Visit to and training at the IJF Judo for Peace dojos in Johannesburg, Berea, Alexandra and Durban Harbour • Judo seminars in judo clubs in cooperation with the South African Judo Federation • Meetings with the Japanese Ambassador, the head of UNHCR South Africa region • Meetings with officials from the South Africa Judo Federation • Visits with refugees in schools and judo dojos

Orlando concluded, “Personally I would like to give Regina and Johannes Daxbacher my greatest appreciation and respect for their dedication to judo and Judo for Peace. We all are very grateful for this opportunity to share knowledge and expertise in the fields of judo, judo-values, teaching, coaching and many others in a well pieced together combination of practical and theoretical moments. I received enormous feedback from all participants on the tatami, officials after our meetings, parents and spectators. We all appreciate their unique position as a global judo-couple and as true Judo for Peace ambassadors. We are looking forward to continuing this cooperation.”

The delegation experienced the warmth of the South Africa and Lesotho hospitality and the welcoming smiles of the young judoka. This unforgettable experience is the mark of true judo spirit that transcends borders and calls for peace.

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