Local Sport > Olympic Games > SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETES AT THE JUDO FOR PEACE

SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETES AT THE JUDO FOR PEACE

The participants of the Judo for Peace welcomed some athletes from the Special Olympics Malta team on the tatami at the University Residence.

The day before the session, Ms Elaine Bonnici gave a presentation about special Olympics Malta, the athletes, and the events they are preparing for, and gave guidelines to the judoka when planning the session for their athletes.

The special Olympics athletes loved the session prepared for them from all participants of the Judo for Peace program.

The athletes commented that they they felt accepted on the mat and felt like a team. They really enjoyed Judo and the session. Another participant used to do Judo, and was happy to try it again.

Chris Murphy, one of the participants of judo for peace, has autism. As a small kid in primary school, he saw a brochure about special needs judo.

After the first couple of weeks, he got really hooked on it. After his first year, his coaches then brought him to mainstream judo, and as he developed he got into more mainstream classes, mainstream grading, and even made it to mainstream Black Belt.

Judo built up his socialization skills, communication, and also helped him focus for his school work. He also managed to get higher national certificates. He got to the point where he can do part time coaching at his own club and he goes into schools for mainstream children and special needs, to try and encourage special needs kids to join classes. He said that if he could do it, so can they.

Joe Wathan, the leader of the British team, is a teaching assistant for children with special education needs. His impression after the session was that the international judoka not only made appropriate session plans for beginners, but they also tapered the verbal communication, and had good demonstrations for the special needs of the participants.

Elaine Bonnici said that it was a unique opportunity for them to learn what Judo is all about, and to understand how Judo could be adapted to their athletes. This would give the possibility for their athletes to train and represent the island in international special needs events.

From the demonstration Ms Bonnici saw, she was impressed with the session and she said that Judo is a sport possible for all abilities. In fact, all special Olympic athletes really enjoyed taking part in all exercises, and she looks forward to seeing Judo included in the Special Olympics Malta.

Apart from special Olympics, the participants of Judo for Peace also had the opportunity to learn about blind judo. One of the leaders of the project is no one less than the President of Judo IBSA (International Blind Sport Association), Norbert Biro, who is also National Coach for Cadets in Hungary. Norbert took the opportunity to show the enthusiastic class how IBSA teach Judo to the Visually Impaired.

The participants took turns to become visually impaired students by using blindfolds, and through games, Norbert gave a better explanation to what the VI athletes feel. The judoka also learned how to teach such a complex sport as Judo by using only touch.
 
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