By Agitos Foundation and IBSA
With under 300 days to the start of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Agitos Foundation, together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Japanese Paralympic Committee, launched the first of the Road to Tokyo 2020 workshops in Tsukuba, Japan.
The activities, held in the framework of the Agitos Foundation Road to the Games programme, aims to increase the capacity and sport technical knowledge of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), to elevate the technical knowledge of coaches and athletes and promote the awareness of the Paralympic Movement and its great stories.
Workshops were delivered for judo, Para archery, Para powerlifting and Para taekwondo.
The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Committee’s Coaching and Education Director Ian Johns travelled to the prestigious University of Tsukuba to lead the sessions for judo.
The course took place over three days. Sessions were split into classroom-based activities discussing visual impairments, classes in IBSA Judo, coaching athletes with visual impairments, strength programmes, calendar and rules.
Practical sessions involved coaches being blind-folded to replicate an impairment. Johns could them show them the importance of language and communication with athletes, uchi komi and warm-ups.
“I would say that the course was a huge success and hopefully the coaches went away understanding more about the visually impaired judo world,” Johns said. “I know that my judo family has definitely grown after meeting these coaches and I look forward to seeing Nepal, Bhutan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia and India on the IBSA Judo circuit in the future.
“A massive thank you must go to the Agitos Foundation, Tokyo 2020, the Japanese Paralympic Committee and Tsukuba University for making this course happen. As an educator I believe that movements like this make a huge difference and I learnt so much from my new-found coaching friends from around the globe.
“Tsukuba university is a very famous university that has very strong connections with the father of Judo, Dr Jigaro Kano, and it was a privilege and an honour to be asked to be a lead educator in such a setting.”
Two other events are set to happen next year, also aiming to train participants from Asia. In February it is the turn of Para swimming, Para table tennis and Para badminton coaches, and sport administrators. In May, a training camp for Para athletics and Para swimming athletes and coaches will be held.
Rita van Driel, Agitos Foundation Executive Committee Chairperson, said:
“For the Agitos Foundation, the commitment of host cities to elevate the Paralympic Movement, promote inclusion and increase participation in Para sport is a key opportunity to partner and achieve common goals. We have no doubt that Japan will deliver outstanding Games and we are glad to join forces and make sure they leave a legacy for Para sport in Asia.
“I want to thank Tokyo 2020, the Japanese Paralympic Committee, the University of Tsukuba and the Japanese Travel Bureau for the support they have given to this event, as well as the educators from IBSA Judo, World Archery, World Para Powerlifting and World Taekwondo.”
Yasushi Yamawaki, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Vice President, said:
“All participants from 16 Asian NPCs could learn a lot about the Paralympic sports and coaching and elevate their knowledge of those over these three days. I believe it will have a significant impact on the development of the Paralympic movement in their countries after they return.
“Leveraging the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, we will contribute to the promotion of the Paralympic Movement with the support of our partners and progress towards the realisation of a more inclusive society.”
Tomohiro Ida, Secretary General of the Japanese Paralympic Committee, said:
“The Japanese Paralympic Committee has a vision, which is to create a vigorous and inclusive society through Para sport. Based on that vision, we have been offering several programmes to improve the capacity of NPCs, and to develop skills and performances of coaches and athletes.
“It is our great pleasure and we hope this opportunity will help them to develop their coaching skills and enhance knowledge about their sport, as well as to create a new network among participants and instructors.”
The Road to Tokyo 2020 is part of the Agitos Foundation Road to the Games initiatives, that were initiated in the build-up to the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. Since then there has been activities linked to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games, the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games.