ZAMBIAN JUDOKAS GEAR UP FOR 2-WEEK EXCHANGE PROGRAM IN IRELAND
A team of 11 judokas from Sables Nua Judo Club in Kabwe, Zambia, along with their coach Francis Moola Lipimile, last evening Monday 24 April 2023 departed for Ireland as part of a two-week exchange program. Sables Nua, which serves street children and other vulnerable children in Kabwe, is run by the Irish NGO ZAMDA and offers education, feeding programs, medical care, and extracurricular activities, including Judo.
With the support of Fr. Jude McKenna and Judo Ireland, a judo club was established at Sables Nua by Sergeant Gabriel Kunda, a former Zambian international judo player with the help of Mr. Padraig O Fainin, Director of ZAMDA. Coaches and judokas from Judo Ireland visited Kabwe to assist with the club's setup, and the late Sensei Gabby also traveled to Ireland. Although Sensei Gabby passed away due to Covid-19, Judo Ireland extended the invitation to the team to undertake the exchange program.
During their stay in Ireland, the team will visit schools to talk about Zambia and demonstrate judo. They will also attend training sessions at judo clubs, visit historical sites, meet officials of the Zambians in Ireland Association, and participate in the West Clare Open tournament on Ireland's west coast and a coaching course with Japanese Sensei Iura Sensei (8th Dan).
At the send-off ceremony held at the Irish Embassy in Lusaka earlier, NOC Zambia President Alfred Foloko expressed his gratitude to the Irish Embassy, particularly H.E Ambassador Bronagh Carr, for facilitating the visa process for the athletes and officials. He commended the Judo Association for their efforts and encouraged other federations to follow their lead in exploring similar avenues and programs to expose their athletes to high-level technical training from experienced coaches.
“As the President of the Olympic Movement in Zambia, I commend the Judo association for their efforts and would like to encourage other federations to follow their lead by exploring similar avenues and programs to expose their athletes. Not only will this benefit the athletes in terms of receiving high-level technical training from experienced coaches, such as the Zambian coach involved in this particular program, but it will also provide opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and learning, as demonstrated by the presence of the expert from Japan, initiatives like these can contribute to the development and advancement of sports on a global scale,’ He said.
Ambassador Bronagh Carr also spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the growing relationship between Zambia and Ireland and the increasing number of Zambian sportspersons participating in competitions in Ireland.
She expressed her delight in seeing young athletes, many of whom used to be street children, achieving their dreams of becoming top sportspeople through their dedication to judo and competing in local and international events.
All costs associated with the trip are being borne by Padraig O Fainin, ZAMDA, and Judo Ireland.