Organised jointly by the IJF and Oceania Judo Union and IJF President Marius Vizer the latest edition of the globetrotting tour (after two editions in China and one in northern Canada previously), the Judo Educational Journey visited four countries and territories in Oceania (Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and New Caledonia).
Official Launch of the Judo Educational Journey Through Oceania in Wollongong, Australia on the occasion of the National Championship.
Mr. Lennie Nitt, President of Oceania Judo Union explained: “In Oceania we have three types of countries: Australia and New Zealand which are quite developed in terms of Judo, the French territories, which receive the support of France, one of the leading countries in the World, and the rest of the Oceanian nations, which are all the islands and where judo still needs to be developed.“
The tour was led by Mr. Nicolas Messner, IJF Media and Judo for Peace Director. The tour was launched in Australia on the occasion of the National Championships, which gathered together hundreds of judoka from the eight Australian states and two territories.
Mr. Neville Sharpe, President of the Australian Judo Federation, said: “The Judo Federation of Australia is very proud to have hosted the launch of the Oceania tour 2015 and we are excited about the planned tour in 2016 and the Australian states are competing to come up with the most innovative initiatives and have the best use of this tour.”
Then the tour moved on to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, where the Pacific Games will soon be held. Mr. John Jambert, President of the PNG Judo Federation said: “Unfortunately Judo was not included in the program of the Games this year in PNG. But we have now the guarantee that it will be the case in the next editions. Nevertheless, thanks to the IJF and the OJU, we were very much visible throughout the week. This educational tour gave us a new push to promote judo very high in our country.“
During their stay in PNG, the IJF and OJU had several important meetings (NOC, Government and Sports Foundation, Japanese Embassy and JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency) to make sure that judo can strongly develop in the upcoming years.
Four judo animations were held: one at the University, two in high schools and one in a local judo club.
(Left) A demo at a local University in front of a huge crowd of intrigued students.
Raymond Ovinou who participated in the last Olympic Games in London and who is seeking for a qualification to go to Rio 2016, was present everyday in the tatami to promote the judo values at the grassroots level.
Following the stop in PNG, the IJF will support the country by sending equipments to create new judo clubs to increase the participation and the popularisation of judo.
Several media activities were held in PNG, which gave an important visibility to judo.
London 2012 Olympian Raymond Ovinou (PNG)
The third leg of the tour was held in Vanuatu. Following the devastating cyclone, which hit Vanuatu last March, equipments are already on their way to held the federation in its willingness to push judo forward.
(Right) A budding judoka ready for action in Vanuatu.
Three judo sessions were held in Port Vila and included judoka from 3 to 30 years old. Several meetings were also organised, the most important one being with the NOC.
Mr. Ted Drew President of the Vanuatu Judo Federation said: “Our island was severely damaged by the cyclone in March and our federation as well. We are now waiting for the IJF equipment to arrive. In the meanwhile we are also pushing hard to have a real judo dojo, which would belong to the federation and which would help us to really develop judo.“
The final stage of the Judo Educational Journey was held in New Caledonia (France). Mr. Pierre Jean Lung, President of the NC Judo League explained: “If the judo facilities are of a very high standard compared to what can be found in other places around Oceania, a lot of work still needs to be done to promote judo in New Caledonia and especially in the North of the Island. But for us it was also very important to welcome the IJF and OJU, because we wanted to tell them that we are ready to help for the development of judo throughout the continent.“
A judo club visit in New Caledonia
During the two and a half week tour, the rhythm was particularly high, with the IJF and OJU delegation linking up judo sessions and meetings to promote judo and its educational values.
Fun for all on the tour
Mr. Lennie Nitt said: “This tour is very important. This was a first edition and we only focused on four countries, but there will be other edition. Oceania needs it. We have to raise the popularity of judo and the participation. Australia and New Zealand are the leading countries, and with the support of the French Territories, we can really have good hope to develop judo throughout the continent. Our main concern is the teaching level. We need equipment of course, but we need good teachers. With the support of the IJF and its President, Mr. Marius Vizer, with such educational tours, and with the commitment of our Union, we are now working hard to make judo become a leading sport in many countries. For sure, this tour is only the starting point of a great journey for judo in Oceania.“
(Left) Judo on the beach in New Caledonia.
Mr. Nicolas Messner said: “The idea of the tour started last year in Nanjing, on the occasion of the Youth Olympic Games. The IJF had already organised a tour through China and was about to do the same in Canada. Oceania is geographically isolated. Bringing judo through its educational dimension is crucial. Judo for Children and Judo for Peace programs for instance can help the countries to promote judo among the population in order to create a better society, to help local populations and in the future to build strong sports policies.“
The IJF Judo Educational Journey through Oceania was a great success. For more than two weeks all eyes were focused on judo throughout the visited territories and already countries like Australia would like to have their own tour to fit to the specific local needs.
Oceania counts 20 member federations. In most of countries, judo as a great potential in terms of education and in terms of sports development. Mr. Lennie Nitt: “We are really thankful to the IJF for such a tour. We are part of the world judo family and this Judo Journey proved it without any doubt.“