Good news from the EJU Festival in Poreč, Croatia: Our rules (yes, the ones we have been working on since the end of the nineties) are now accepted as THE rules for Special Needs Judo. And, our divisioning system FCS is also accepted as THE system to be used in order to give Special Needs judoka a safe and fair competition experience. Below is a nice article from the Romanian paper Dešteptarea.
From June 10-21, 2023, Croatia hosted the eighth edition of the EJU Judo Festival, the event ending with a series of activities dedicated to Special Needs athletes and coaches.
At the invitation of Denisa Marian (Deliu), advisor to the president of the European Judo Union, Romania was represented by CS Bronx Powerlifting Club Bacău, through coaches Daniel Zodian and Maria Budău, athletes Ionela Ivan, Grafian Cojocaru, Alexandru Zodian, Oana Panțiru, but also by the president of the club, Gabriela Iftimescu. Since the beginning of 2022, the club has brought to Romania the largest adapted judo campaign through which it proposed to children with mental disabilities a form of alternative therapy, through sports, in which no less than 729 children from the municipality participated Bacău, within the project “Judo is played, CE Spui?”, financed by the In Stare de Bine program, supported by Kaufland Romania and implemented by the Civil Society Development Foundation. In the year 2023, the campaign is to be expanded nationally, in 10 counties in the country, through the project “Judoka, rei!-Unde terimileri dispar…”, so that the educational and therapeutic value of judo is more and more intense promoted.
During the event, the participants enjoyed sessions of adapted judo, theoretical and practical seminars related to approaches to disabilities, the division of athletes according to the level of disability, but also the rules of Special Needs competitions, as well as games and activities informal, such as t-shirt painting or crafting. At the same time, the festival brought along judokas and coaches big names from the world of judo, such as Nuno Delgado and Malte Geppert, coordinators of the Judo for Children program in the European Judo Union, Marina Drascoviç, coordinator of the adapted judo department of the European Union of Judo, Barbara Matic, double world champion, and Olympic champion of Slovenian origin Tina Trstenjak.
Following the festival, where organizations from all over the world that work with judoka with mental disabilities were present for dialogue and exchange of best practices, the official regulations for holding Special Needs judo sports events will be published on the EJU website, as well as the way of recognition, definition and framing of disability, so that, at the European level, organizations can develop a unitary work system, removing organizational and participation conflicts.
The CS Bronx Powerlifting Club Bacău team, which, from 2021, was joined by Denisa Marian, is going to implement the first judo festival adapted alongside the European Judo Union. More than a sport, judo is a way to grow, push your limits and develop, an aspect that the Bronx Sport Club team wants to highlight by offering judo programs for typical children, but also atypical, to reach all schools in Romania, to students, physical education and sports teachers, but also to parents looking for a form of therapy for their children. The Fall School is just one example of a judo program that has been successfully implemented internationally and that can be fruitful in schools, but also in sports clubs, regardless of the sport practiced.
“Working with athletes with intellectual disabilities starts with understanding them. In people suffering from an intellectual disability, there are, according to doctors, deficiencies in two areas: at the level of intellectual functioning, through incapacity or reduced capacity for learning, motivation, decision-making and problem-solving, with an IQ below 70, and at the level of adaptive behaviors, which means the ordinary skills by which we survive in everyday life, from communication, interaction and self-care capacity. And judo comes and folds on every practitioner, because the needs of play, confidence, courage, interaction and communication are needs of every human being, regardless of abilities or disabilities. And, to quote our friends from the Special Needs Judo Foundation, promoters of adapted judo in Europe, SN judo is created for all judoka. Every participant will have the opportunity to enjoy and compete in judo together, at their own level, in the safest way possible. And this can be done because we made sure that the rules promote safety”, explained Daniel Zodian, CS Bronx Powerlifting Club Bacau coordinator judo coach.