This week sees 130 fighters return to the mat as England Judo open their England Talent Development Centres (ETDCs) under the Elite Exemption granted by the Government.

Following the recent announcement of six new ETDCs England Judo are now ready to begin the process of inviting ETD Cadet, Junior & U23, and GB Junior & Senior fighters back onto the mat following an opt-in process. This is an exciting step in the right direction of our return to judo with two clubs set to open exactly 12 months to the day that the UK was plunged into lockdown.

The England Squad program is a development program, which aims to prepare players with the necessary technical, tactical, physical, mental and lifestyle attributes to progress through the GB Pathway onto the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) and achieve success at senior international level.

The ETDCs will return on the following dates:

Bath University – Tuesday 23rd March
Bishops Stortford Judokwai – Tuesday 23rd March
SKK Judo Club – Wednesday 24th March
Middlesbrough Judo Club – Wednesday 31st March
Core Judo – Wednesday 31st March
University of Wolverhampton – Wednesday 7th April

Upon return, fighters will follow the Stage 2 process that British Judo implemented when their Elite fighters returned to training last year. Fighters will be split into ‘clusters’ and allocated 1-2 training partners, a pairing that will remain constant throughout the training process with contact only permitted when on the mat. These measures are to help limit the possible spread of Covid-19 amongst the wider group.

During training sessions coaches will wear full PPE and keep a 2m social distance and when fighters are not training, they will also wear PPE and adhere to social distancing rules.

Pathway Manager Tim Ellis was thrilled to finally get the England Programme relaunched and have 130 hungry athletes step back onto the mat.

“We are really excited to get back.  We are in a privileged position to use the government’s Elite Exemption guidance to return to training.  We have a 15 week return-to-train programme, which takes into consideration the amount of time we have been away from contact sport and allows us to build intensity and volume gradually so that we safely get back to full fitness.”

“All of our fighters have gone through an opt-in process, so it has been optional for fighters to return to training during the Elite Exemption phase.”