£188,000 boost for Visually Impaired judo in England

Disabled people across England will have more opportunities to get involved in sport after the British Judo Association received almost £190,000 of funding from Sport England’s Inclusive Sport fund.

The association’s 2020 Vision project is one of 44 projects across England that will benefit from £8.06 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England to open up more opportunities for disabled people to play sport.

The project sees the British Judo Association partner with a range of charities and visually impaired colleges to provide new routes for inactive blind and visually impaired (VI) people into regular sporting activity.

It starts with a six week judo-based personal safety programme for residents before moving on to a 12 session Yellow Belt Challenge for those in the community.

Sessions are to be run in newly formed VI judo clubs, hosted by four VI colleges in dedicated VI sports facilities. Participants will graduate with their peers into twice weekly beginners judo sessions run
by community coaches and VI support staff. The four clubs will also meet and compete regularly for enjoyment and sporting progress.

Charities involved in the project include the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), the Royal College for the Blind, Henshaws Charity and New College Worcester.

Commenting on the funding, Chair of the British Judo’s Inclusion Commission Sara Hayes said: “The British Judo Association is absolutely delighted to be receiving funding from the Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Fund.

“It will give visually impaired young people the chance to experience the sport on their own terms, and enable them to participate at whatever level they choose, whether it is for fun, fitness, or to fulfil aspirations to international success!”

British Judo Delivery Director Mark Beecher added: “This funding award is great news for visually impaired judo and to the sport in general.

“It will allow us to make a real impact on the ground, providing new opportunities to people with visual impairments and giving them a new sport to enjoy.

“Who knows, we may even find the next Paralympic champion.”

Sport England Director of Insight, Lisa O’Keefe, said: “We are delighted to be able to the British Judo Association provide more opportunities for disabled people to give sport a go. Record numbers of disabled people now play sport and it’s thanks to clubs like this that we can continue to improve opportunities and make a real difference in communities.”

The number of disabled people playing sport regularly is on the rise. In December 2013, Sport England’s Active People Survey – an annual, in-depth measure of the nation’s sporting habits – revealed that a record number of disabled people in England now play sport each week. However, non-disabled people are still twice as likely to play sport as disabled people (39.2 per cent compared to 18.5 per cent) which is why Sport England continues to focus attention and investment to address this imbalance.

Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Fund supports programmes that aim to increase the number of disabled people playing sport. Since the fund launched, £17.1 million has been invested in 88 projects that make sport a viable lifestyle choice for disabled people.

As well as funding disability sport programmes, Sport England also funds equipment. In addition to today’s £8.06 million announcement, Sport England also recently awarded £1 million to 141 clubs across England to help them buy equipment to open up sport to disabled people.