• Judo Grand Prix, Dusseldorf 2014 - DAY 3

    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:43
  • Judo Grand Prix, Dusseldorf 2014 - DAY 2

    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:42
  • Judo Grand Prix, Dusseldorf 2014 - DAY 3

    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:42
  • Judo Grand Prix, Dusseldorf 2014 - DAY 2

    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:42
  • Judo Grand Prix, Dusseldorf 2014 - DAY 1

    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:42

Morocco sets high standard at Judo African Open 2014

A populous crowd came to Casablanca, Morocco, for the first edition of the Judo African Open, organised in the white city. During two days, 258 athletes (170 Men, 89 Women) from 30 countries competed. It was a good occasion for the Moroccan Judo Federation to show its will to support the development of Judo in the country.
High standard in Casablanca for the Judo African Open 2014
During the opening ceremony, the President of the Royal Moroccan Judo Federation, Mr. Chafik El Kettani, said: "It is a great pleasure to welcome you all here in Casablanca. For a weekend, we are proud to be the World Capital of Judo. Thank you to the King of Morocco for his support and a special thank you to the International Judo Federation and the African Judo Union for having integrated our event within the list of international events giving points for the World Ranking list."
AJU President, General Lassana Palenfo, declared: "It a great pleasure for me to thank the Moroccan Judo Federation for the fantastic efforts they produced to host such an event and to welcome us in the magnificent city of Casablanca. This event, which was put under the high patronage of his Majesty, the King Mohamed VI, attracted many judoka from the five continents. It is a real success.
Judo has been part of the Moroccan Sports Landscape for many years. Today, we can all be proud that the technical and organizational aspects of the event were perfectly conducted.
"It is an incredible occasion for all the participants to discover the richness of Morocco. I am sure that this first edition will lead to the development of judo in the country and in Africa, and that it will be a source of sports as well as social and cultural inspiration to everybody."
High Sports and Organisational Values
With 258 participants coming from the five continents, the Judo African Open, Casablanca, perfectly launches the international sports season and many athletes who participated during the weekend, will be present in Paris, within two weeks, on the occasion of the Judo Grand Slam, Paris 2014, which will be the first IJF World Judo Tour event of the year and which will gather together the best judoka in the world.

Mr. El Djamali El Arabia, Director of the Organizing Committee said: "The decision to organize the event was taken last year in Maputo during the African Championship. In coordination with Mr. Vizer, the IJF President, we expressed our will to have a major event in Morocco. We just needed to find the right date. After discussions with the IJF Head Sports Director, Mr. Vladimir Barta, we decided to put it at the beginning of the sports season. It is a good opportunity for many delegations to prepare the upcoming events. It was important not to interfere with other IJF events. "
Just after the African Open, all the athletes can also take part in the training camp. Then They will have one more week to get ready for Paris Grand Slam. 
"We are really surprised by the level of participation and we now realize that it was a good choice. The infrastructure is very good in Casablanca. If our goal is to become a Grand Prix in the upcoming years, we want to progress step by step and we will correct and improve what we found was not efficient enough," said Mr. El Djamali. 
The goal of the Moroccan Judo Federation, who involved more than 200 volunteers in the event, is excellence in the sports level as well as in the organisational level and the federation didn’t count its effort to offer the best to the participating countries. "We wanted to start without asking anything. Our objective was to show that we were capable of doing it. Thanks to the IJF and the AJU, we had the support of many experts and everybody helped to make this event a big success. We can be proud," concluded the Director of the Organizing Committee.
After the competition, Mr. Jean-Claud Cameroun, AJU Sports Director said: "The tournament went really well. We had some small difficulties with the accreditation but we manage to find solutions. Event after event, we start to become more professional and even if we still have work to do we are reaching a good level of organization."
A four-year Strategy
If the African Open is clearly part of the Moroccan Judo Federation strategy to develop judo in the country, this is not the only aspect that its president and executive committee are developing. Mr. El Kettani, explained: "It was not an easy choice to decide to organise the event. Even if we already hosted several important tournaments in the past, this Open and the standard it requires was something new. But all the feedback are really positive. The Moroccan Sports Channel broadcast it live and I am convinced that for the next edition we will get more sponsors. For this first edition we counted on the outstanding support of the Sports Ministry, our Executive Committee members, the regional leagues, the clubs and many volunteers, who have been hardly working for more than four months. We have now to analyse our forces and weaknesses and we will improve everything next year. We will also work hard to have more media coverage."
Beside the national team number 1 (10 athletes who are among the top 50 in the world), the federation was able to test 20 young athletes, who represents the future generation of champions. Mr. El Kettani then detailed: "We have a four-year plan including five points: 1 - High level competition (4 and 8 years plan); 2 - Education; 3 - The increase in number of judoka; 4 - The visibility of Morocco; 5 - The good governance."
Judo as a Social Development Tool
Just before the African Open, a delegation of officials from the Moroccan Judo Federation led by its President, from the IJF and the AJU, led by the President of the African Judo Union, visited the Ibnou Rochd Hospital, where an association takes care of the children by providing studying and recreational activities. Athletes and Moroccan champions were also present during the visit. 
For more than a year, the Royal Moroccan Judo Federation has been working with associations acting in the social sector. "We have a strong partnership with the Sports Ministry," said the Moroccan Judo Federation President, before adding: "We must not forget the people in need and judo can help everybody. Judo can bring peace, it can also bring inner peace. The Ministry put at our disposal venues, we offer the equipments and the judo teachers. Our goal is to help the association and to widen our judo base. Within a year we have increased by 1,000 the number of judo players (14,000 judo players in Morocco). We have targeted the young people from 6 to 14 years old."
During a very emotional visit, the judo delegates met with hospitalised children, spent some time with them and offered them presents. As the President El Kettani declared: "We will go forward in that direction. Judo is an incredible ambassador to help the development of our societies. Medals are important but judo can bring more than medals. We also work with disadvantaged street children, who are often taking drugs. Within a few weeks, the people in charge of the children all say that are getting more disciplined. The effect is very positive."
This policy as an other positive consequence: to give the opportunity to the federation to detect future talents: "I am very confident that within 8 years, some of this young people will becomes our future champions. We will also find good teachers and futures sports leaders among them. We can offer them education."

Click here to visit the new African Judo Union webite for full results. 

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