CHENNAI : Avtar Singh making it to the Rio Olympics was a great moment for Indian judo. Never a strong suit for our countrymen, the sport got the vital boost it needed, and people started talking about judo as well.
A sport that requires a lot of strength and high versatility, judo is seen as a big event at the Summer Games. And, following up on Avtar’s success — notwithstanding the South Asian Games champion’s fall at the first hurdle in Brazil — the Judo Federation of India (JFI), in collaboration with the International Judo Federation (IJF), has brought the ‘Judo Educational Journey Through India’ programme home.
Aimed at spreading awareness about the sport among masses, while also teaching youngsters and scouting for talent, it will take place between October 1 and 11 at various venues in North India. “It is a project of the IJF where three experts will be sent to India to raise awareness and educate people about the sport. It will start and end in New Delhi, with stops at all JFI training centres across northern India,” said JFI president Mukesh Kumar.
The program will consist of demonstrations, presentations, training, conferences, and interaction with young children and coaches. “The federation wants to increase the playing population of judo in India. By the time Tokyo Olympics comes around in 2020, we want to see at least 50,000 judokas across the country. The programme has already been conducted in countries like China, Canada and Australia. So, IJF will be well equipped to handle proceedings in India,” he added.
National women’s coach Virender Singh believes this initiative will help motivate youngsters. “This program will motivate youngsters to take up the sport, as it will see the likes of Olympians Avtar, Akram Shah and CWG bronze-medallist Kalpana Devi. The IJF experts who will come to India will include London Olympics silver-medallist Miklos Ungvari. The best part of this programme is the fact that youngsters will get to compete against these experts, as classes are practicals-based.”
Mukesh added that the programme will be taken to other zones on a yearly basis. “This year, we started with North India. Next year, it will either be the South or West Zones, and another zone two years later. So by the time Tokyo comes, judo will have spread to all parts of India, and we will also have opened many training centres in these zones.”