2 June 2022
On the 30th of May 2022, Ambassador Maruyama handed over the Judo for Hope Centre in Alexandra to Judo South Africa. The Japanese Government funded this project through the Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects.
Judo South Africa, in partnership with the International Judo Federation, has organized Judo activities in Alexandra since 2018. These activities led to the establishment of a permanent Judo centre in Alexandra.
The idea of opening a Judo for Hope dojo in one of the biggest townships in South Africa has forever been a dream for coach Dirk Crafford, 6th Dan and now retired High Performance Director of Judo South Africa. In 2018 Roberto Orlando, the IJF coach and coordinator of Judo for Peace SA, visited a dilapidated building at the Altrec Recreation Centre in Alexandra. Both understood, without discussion, understood that it could become a new training facility, with a crowd of children thirsty for judo!
The technical design was developed with the expertise of an Italian engineer, Luigi Varnero, who dedicated his free time to the the dojo, supervising the progress of the construction works.
Once developed, the project proposal, Judo for Hope, was embraced enthusiastically by the Embassy of Japan, which made construction funds available and by Judo South Africa and the IJF, supporting Mr Crafford and Mr Orlando with project management and administration.
The project, which began officially in early 2020, had to face the hardships of the pandemic. In the right judo spirit, never giving up, the Judo for Hope Centre was built and completed with only a small delay to the original schedule.
During the hand over ceremony, children who are taught Judo at the Centre demonstrated their skills to show what they had learned.
A cherry blossom tree was planted by Mr Tefo Raphadu, the Ward Councillor, Mr Temba Hlasho, the President of Judo South Africa and Ambassador Maruyama to celebrate the relationship between Japan and South Africa.
This centre makes it possible for the community to learn and practice Judo, contributing to the health and development of the youth as well as the overall promotion of the community’s health.
The Judo for Hope dojo, a home to a promising team of judoka, with more and more boys and girls spending time on the tatami. This new facility is already fulfilling its promise to be part of the positivity that builds and promotes teamwork, leadership, and self-confidence, it can also help prevent issues such as violence, bullying, harassment, aggression, and discrimination contributing to a better tomorrow.