In a British Judo first, we would like to officially launch our first Transition Mentoring programme designed to support members of the British Judo community as they make the transition from competing and supporting them into the next step of their lives.

When competing at any level, it can be a difficult stage of any athlete’s career when it comes to an end. For some it can be a struggle when they finally make the decision to hang up their competitive judogis. Whether a competitive career has ended prematurely or naturally, we know that there are some excellent support mechanisms already in place and we want to continue to ensure our community is getting the best support possible.

A small team has been working hard behind the scenes to design and deliver a wider ranging support programme that is accessible for current and former judoka across the Association and our community.

We are seeking mentors to help support the Athlete Transition Programme, as well as those who would like to be involved with the programme in some way. We have had tremendous support to date from the North West Chair, Chris Milward who has a longstanding history of working within the safeguarding and social support sector, and former Team GB double Paralympic medallist, Ian Rose who now works as a Life Coach following retirement from Judo. We are however continuing to seek additional mentors within our Judo family.

Should you wish to become or train to become a mentor, or support this programme then we would love to hear from you. This programme may also appeal to mentees; those of you within our community who may benefit from having a mentor to assist you during a transitional period of your life.

Programme Lead Sami Smithson explains “It doesn’t matter what level you have progressed to, whether you have competed at club level, national level, international level, if a chapter is closing, we want you to close that chapter successfully. We want to help you on that next step with a mentor to help facilitate a successful transition into whichever avenue you wish to progress into, whether it is becoming a parent, running your own business, becoming a coach/referee/official, amongst others”

‘Although judo is seen as an individual sport when you are on the mat, it is always important to have a support team behind you and to have someone in your corner. That’s what I see this is as, having someone in your corner when you need it.’

Supported by the British Judo Trust the programme will be reliant on the volunteers of the judo community who want to contribute and help our judo family.

If you feel that some assistance helping you get through a particularly challenging patch in your life, or are recognising that your time on the mat is coming to an end and you are looking for that next step in life and want to discuss some new ideas, then you can apply for a mentor.

Sami went on to explain: ‘Our mentors aren’t necessarily going to give people solutions, but they will help them find the solutions’

If it’s a change in direction and a step away from being active/competitive and a judoka needs support then they can apply for a mentor. Equally, if an athlete has retired some time ago but struggled adjusting and feels some support would be useful (even years down the line) then we want to still be available for them. This is really important in light of the longer term effects of transition and adjustment.

There will be a limited number of mentors and mentees selected as part of the first cohort of the programme, but as the programme grows, more opportunities will become available. There will also be further information and web based sessions during 2021 which will be highlighted on our Transition page.

We already have some great names from the Judo community involved, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. The above video will provide you with further information about what you can expect from the programme. We are really excited to launch the Athlete Transition Programme, and the featured names in the video are just a handful of former athletes that we have spoken to.