Youngsters looking forward to inclusion event at British Judo Centre of Excellence

A number of coaches and players from judo clubs across the country are looking forward to attending an inclusion day at the National Centre of Excellence at the University of Wolverhampton in Walsall today (7 February).

Some of the clubs attending include Rush Judo, Nuneaton Combat and Exercise Judo Club, Hilltop Judo Club, Welsh judo, Droitwich Spa Kanokwai A.J.A, Renrukan Judo Club, Washington Judo Club, Our Lady and St Chads and Shadsworth Judo club.

Judo is a sport that is open to all and the day is a chance players to come together on the mat and for coaches to learn how to help players with disabilities. With exciting activities across the day there are many opportunities for people with any disability to get involved in the sport.

Caitlin Leigh, 11, is a VI judoka from Blackburn who trains twice a week at Shadsworth Judo club and Beach Judo club. Caitlin was born with glaucoma. She is now blind in one eye and has limited vision in one eye but she trains alongside mainstream players on a daily basis. Caitlin has been doing judo for six years, following in the footsteps of her uncle. Judo has a strong Paralympic programme and is now based at the National Centre of Excellence.

Visiting world class Japanese judoka Ikumi Tanimoto (-63kg) the All Japan champion and Ikumi’s sister, Ayumi Tanimoto, a double Olympic champion will demonstrate techniques on the day will be attending the day. Ikumi has expressed an interest in working with special needs players.

Caitlin’s father Dave said: “Caitlin wants to be a Paralympian one day and she just loves judo and doesn’t let anything get in her way, she trains alongside all the other judoka at the club and is no different.”

Double Paralympic medallist Ian Rose will be one of the senior coaches on the day; helping coaches to understand how to coach other players with visual impairments. 

Dave Stanley, a referee of 41 years standing, who has been involved in VI refereeing at international level since 2001, with the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA), the world governing body for VI judo will also be in attendance at the weekend.

Senior coach Kerry Tansey is a technical officer who delivers the disability courses for the British Judo Association and she will be working with some of the youngsters with special needs on the day.

World Junior medallist Ebony Drysdale-Daley along with Junior European Champion and Commonwealth silver medallist Jodie Myers, will also provide inspiration for the players on the day.

2014 Junior British Champion Lele Nairne and Pete Miles, five time British champion and European Youth Olympic Festival 2013 medallist in Utrecht, Netherlands will be in attendance at the event. 

Guests, coaches and members of the inclusion commission will also be in attendance including: Steve Westlake inclusion commission coordinator, Sara Hayes inclusion commission chair and referee, coach Andrew Scott and Jean Cleere both senior commission member national championship controllers and Ron Cleere, senior coach and national and international special needs referee as well as Ken Thorne, national commission member and Team GB special needs coach as well as Jo Imrie, Team GB Special Needs coach.

James Woodland, national inclusion lead and sevice manager for the South East will also be on hand to discuss any inclusion issues from a club perspective  and Keith Eldridge will also be on hand to discuss safeguarding issues.

Special needs coach Steve Westlake, said: “Judo can be adapted for every different disability. It is all about fun and accessing judo. Anyone can do it. All they need is the confidence to start off and we welcome everyone to give it a try.”

Chairman Kerrith Brown said: “I am really looking forward to the day and it wil be great to raise the profile of judo as a sport for all.”

Words by Donna Richardson. Photos supplied.