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New Horizons Open as Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Joins Judo Intellectual Disability Project

The newly launched initiative will create opportunities for judokas with intellectual disabilities in Europe
Two young men fighting on a tatami
 Judokas Benno Witte (Special Olympics Switzerland) and Armis Alexandru Matei (Special Olympics Romania) competing at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, 2023

Adaptive judo is on the rise once again in Europe thanks to the European Union-funded 'Judo Intellectual Disability Project' (JIDP). This initiative aims to foster the social and cultural inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) through judo across six countries: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

As part of this endeavor, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE) is collaborating with experts from Universitat Ramon Llull Fundacio, Judo Assist Ireland, Università degli Studi di Genova, Swiss Adaptive Judo, Interdisciplinary Network of Special and Intercultural Education, Sport Evolution Alliance and the Real Federación Española de Judo y Deportes Asociados.

SOEE Sports Vice president Miroslaw Krogulec said, “Research has shown that participation in judo can have both social and health benefits for people with ID and this project aims at easing access to adaptive judo for athletes by means of expanding the pool of trainers and experts educated on the subject.

“We are thrilled to contribute to promoting judo for people with ID across Europe together with our project partners”

The launch of JIDP took place earlier in 2024 at the first consortium meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. While still in the early stages of its development, the project’s team has high hopes.

Judo Assist Ireland’s President James Mulroy added, “We aim at developing and expanding adaptive judo practices to more clubs, regions and countries across Europe and beyond.

“To do this we first need to develop and expand the number of adaptive judo coaches and volunteers with a passion for adaptive sport and disability awareness.”

Judo has been a Special Olympics sport for over 20 years and today it is practised in 31 European countries, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

According to Cecilia Evenblij, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Sports Advisor for Judo and Vice President of Swiss Adaptive Judo, JIDP is a promising starting point:

“I love this project because there is a lot of interest in adaptive judo in Europe, but we don’t always have the meanings to aptly respond to it, nor the possibilities to travel.

“With the support of Erasmus+, we can now educate over 40 new adaptive judo coaches through our ‘Train the Trainer’ programme. We can now reach trainers in over 12 countries both online and at international in-person workshops, live on the same tatami. This is a wonderful development, an honour, and a great chance for me to share my knowledge and experience.”

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.


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