Allen Khumalo, Sports Reporter
THIRTY-TWO martial artists are set to converge at Hartmann House Preparatory School in Harare tomorrow for the Japanese Judo Ambassador Cup Tournament.
The purpose of the cup is to showcase both the martial art and sport of judo to the public and to bring Zimbabwe’s best fighters together in the spirit of sportsmanship.
Judo Association of Zimbabwe (JAZ) president Debi Jeans said the competition, bankrolled by the Japanese Embassy, will also be graced by the presence of the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane.
“Preparations have been done and everything is set for the competition. This is a tournament where we are bringing in fantastic and high profile fighters from across the country to fight against each other. It really promises to be an exciting team event show-casing the best of Zimbabwe’s fighters and the spirit of the martial arts in action. Admission to the event is free so I urge all those interested in the sport to come and witness exciting fights from the best national fighters,” said Jeans.
She said all 32 fighters competed in the first national ranking competition which was held last week on Sunday and from those results national coaches selected the top ranking fighters representing senior judo clubs.
Winners of the competition will walk away with a trophy while the runner–ups will get medals.
Jeans expressed satisfaction with the growth of the sport in the country though pointing out difficulties in securing resources needed to spread the sport to grassroots level.
“I’m very proud of the way the sport has gained recognition in the country and I believe that we are heading somewhere in terms of development. I would also give recognition to our coaches and referees who have played a crucial part in our junior competitions. However, we have challenges in getting resources to promote the sport at grassroots level but we are hopeful this year we will be able to counter that. The ministry of sport is working on introducing judo in schools so we are looking forward to that as it will go a long way in producing fighters for the national team,” Jeans said.