Action of the Erasmus+ Sport “Sports for Different Heroes” project,
Mladost Sport Park, Zagreb (Croatia), 16 June 2019
The Erasmus+ Sport project “Sports for Different Heroes” (duration 01/01/2019-30/06/2020, coordinated by Olympiacos, partnered by Lazio, Crvena Zvezda, APOEL and HAŠK Mladost) aims to use sport as a means of integration and inclusion for persons with mental disorders. Each of the multisport clubs approached the goal with specific methods. While most of the clubs used various sports, often on a team basis, HAŠK Mladost opted for judo – an individual sport where the training in the most specific part is held between the coach and the pupil.
Every pupil is approached based on their own needs and requirements, therefore adjusting to the specific disabilities that each of the children and youngsters participating in this experimental project activity. Judo is a contact sport – it builds on the persons integrity to defend oneself by using a proper posture, movement and preparation for combat. The combat itself uses specific movements that define ones technique and enables the person to both defend oneself and achieve a goal to overpower ones adversary.
On a motoric level – it is very important to realise that with games and play it becomes much easier to motivate persons with mental disabilities to develop movements that are situationally defined, making them slowly adapt to the circumstances of the tatami square area.
On a social level – persons with mental disabilities often have additional social disabilities. With practising an individual sport activity – such as is judo – this issue is tackled so that in a way they become more confident in interaction with other people on a basis of rules, purpose and competition between athletes.
The coach should have a background in working with people with disabilities, especially mental ones, the longer the experience the more skilled the coach will be. I have noticed that education in this area is scarce and experience represents the best qualification to secure results in the training. HAŠK Mladost had the opportunity to recruit a coach that works with students with mental abilities – Rene PETROVIC, having more than 15 years experience in the filed. He led the activity and also used a pupil of his who has an international result in sport – Tomislav IVAŠKOVIĆ. Having both the right professional and a person who feels confident on the floor leads to new members feeling more relaxed and compelled to properly try a new sport.
Altogether the activity lasted for 2 hours, as it took some time to get them all in kimono and have them placed in an orderly manner to take turns and later on to work in pairs. Persons that participated in the experimental action:
Marko K., b. 15.8.1995.
Hrvoje F., b. 22.11.1987.
Igor S., b. 5.8.1967.
Magdalena H., b. 25.1.2004.
Tomislav Č., b. 10.10.1971.
Dominig Gj., b. 24.10.1996. and
Tomislav I., b. 28.5.1987.
Together with Rene there were 2 coaches participating in leading the training.
Final remarks after the completion of the experimental training activity: for a person such as me without previous expertise in this area, it had been an increasingly valuable experience, witnessing how young people adapt and accept a new sport to communicate and cooperate with their surrounding. Judo, being a contact sport, gave the people a chance to prove their motor, balance and strength capabilities with one another. Especially interesting was witnessing how they interacted with one another, following the orderly rules and concept of judo combat.
Judo as a sport can be recommended to other clubs as a way to give the persons with mental disadvantages a new perspective and a new method for them to develop their motor and social skills. Judo is also a fantastic way for them to have fun and to entertain themselves.