Despite the difficulties and the hardship, Ukrainian children continue to move towards their goals and prove that judo is not just a sport but is the foundation for a philosophy that helps people to cope with any challenges on the path of life.

The story of the Ukrainian children who were evacuated in March 2022 from Zaporizhzhia city (Ukraine) to Wiesbaden (Germany) - CLICK HERE - did not end. On the contrary, it opened up new horizons in the children’s lives.

Today, 35 refugee children live, study, train and develop in the cosy capital of the state of Hesse, in central western Germany. They were all welcomed by the social services of Wiesbaden and the judo club Wiesbaden 1922 e.V.

Thanks to well-coordinated work, the young judoka now have hopes and a positive outcome in their studies and judo.

Education in German schools

For eight months the beneficiaries did not only successfully implement their education in German schools and learn the language but they also actively participated in city life. To demonstrate how well intregrated they are, in October, as members of the Judoka Johannesstift / EVIM team, they took part in the 25-Stunden-Lauf 2022 race and finished third.

25-Stunden-Lauf 2022 race

To encourage the inclusion of everyone, the coach of the local club, together with his athletes, conduct regular free training sessions for refugees and disabled children.

The young Ukrainian competitors also show a good level of judo at regional cadet championships, where they have registered many wins in their respective weight categories.

Refugees and disabled children judo session
Refugees and disabled children

For instance, Sofya Svydka won the gold medal at the German U18 Cadet Championships and shared her story with us, “Wiesbaden is a very nice city. We are here with the team and we feel at home. We have everything we need for life and the main thing is that we have the opportunity to follow our dreams. First of all, I dream that the war will stop.

Sofya Svydka won the gold medal at the German U18 Cadet Championships

My second biggest dream is to visit the homeland of judo, Japan, and become an Olympic champion!

I understand that I need to work hard. I'm only 15 years old and now we are in a difficult situation far from home, but I'm ready to work hard! I want to show everybody that even in very difficult situations we have the right to keep dreaming big. People are looking at us and we must give them hope! The main values of judo are my guiding star for achieving peace in my life and in the whole world!”

Young female judoka from Ukraine

Recently Sonya and her team were very happy to receive a greeting video from their world judo idol, Kosei Inoue Sensei, as well as huge support from the non-profit organisation JUDOs, which Kosei Inoue is leading.

JUDOs offered new judogi to everyone.

The message begind all this is simple: let's move together with the International Judo Federation and the entire judo family toward peace! This is what we wish, this is what we want and Sonya and all her friends can be assured that they are not alone.

Kosei Inoue
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