Following the arrival of the equipment donated to the Judo Association of Zimbabwe by the International Federation, the local body is looking at launching a development programme in schools across the country.
The sport has been concentrated in Harare and the national association have been pushing to ensure it is as vibrant in other provinces.
And, among the several programmes they are running is the inclusion of schools they believe will be a catalyst in achieving their goal in the long-run.
Zimbabwe got 10 sets of mats and 500 judo suits from the international federation after JAZ president, Smart Deke, shared his vision, to grow the sport locally, with the IJF president during the 2019 congress in Tokyo.
And now that the equipment is here, Deke said it would complement their efforts to spread the sport. “At the moment, with the judo in schools programme, it’s the programme that is right before us and we already received some equipment.
“It’s at the airport, we are just hoping the Sports Ministry can help us get a rebate and we are also expecting to have more equipment coming.
“We are targeting 10 schools at the moment and, with the 13 qualified coaches that we have, I think we will be able to run those 10 schools and we are going to try and scatter it in provinces.
“We are targeting to have one school from each province so that we will be able to spread the sport.
“When I came in as president, my vision was to spread the sport, we want the sport to be everywhere and, with the equipment that we had within, it was actually limiting us.
“But, now, having this equipment, I think it’s going to reach the target that I have.
“My target is that by 2023, we should be able to have more than 3 000 judokas,” said Deke.
A lot still needs to be done for the sport to start producing results at regional and international level, particularly with the seniors.
However, Deke believes if they can first create a broad base in the country through such grassroots projects, it will give the athletes the competition to prepare them for bigger events.
“With that target, it will help us produce the much-needed medals because you will see that all along we took athletes that were going to participate on international level from a few clubs that we had.
“So, locally, they didn’t have enough competition that actually prepared them to stand with those international athletes,” said Deke.
In 2018 the judo mother body launched another development programme aimed at promoting sport for all when they introduced the sport for the visually impaired and have been making some strides.
Part of the equipment is expected to go to Copota School, which they have been targeting to expand the programme for the visually impaired, and Bulawayo is also being considered for the same programme.