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Different heroes from HAŠK Mladost

The event of the Erasmus + Sport project “Sports for Different Heroes”,
Mladost Sports Park, Zagreb (Croatia), June 16, 2019

The Erasmus + Sport project “Sports for Different Heroes” (duration 01.01.2019 – 30.06.2020, coordinated by Olympiacos, partners are Lazio, Crvena zvezda, APOEL and HAŠK Mladost) wants to use sports as a way of integration and inclusion for people with mental difficulties. Each of the multisport clubs approached the implementation of the project with its own specific methods. While most clubs used various sports, often as a team, HAŠK Mladost opted for judo – an individual sport in which training takes place mostly between coaches and students.

Each student is approached according to his needs and requirements, adapting to the specific difficulties of each of the children and young people who participated in this experimental project activity. Judo is a contact sport – it uses the integrity of the person in defense through correct posture, movement and preparation for the fight. The fight itself uses specific technical movements that allow a person to defend himself and achieve the goal of overcoming the opponent.

On the motor level – it is very important to understand that by practicing and playing it becomes much easier to motivate people with mental disabilities to develop movements that are situationally defined, allowing them to slowly adapt to the circumstances of the tatami.

On the social level – people with mental disabilities often have additional social difficulties. Coaching an individual sport – such as judo – solves this problem in such a way that participants gain additional confidence in interacting with other people based on rules, a sense of purpose, and competing with other athletes.

The trainer should definitely have experience in working with people with disabilities, especially mental ones, the longer the experience, the more expert the trainer will be. It is easy to notice that education in the field of sports with disabilities is underdeveloped, and experience is the best qualification for achieving results in training. HAŠK Mladost was lucky to have in its coaching staff a coach who has been working with people with mental disabilities for many years – Rene PETROVIĆ, who has more than 15 years of experience and guides an athlete with disabilities on his way to international sports success – Tomislav IVAŠKOVIĆ. When you have a real professional and a person who feels confident on the tatami mat, new members will feel more relaxed and eager to try a new sport.

In the end, the activity lasted two hours, as it took some time to get everyone dressed in kimono and set up in an orderly manner to take turns and later work in pairs. People who participated in the experimental action:

Marko K.
Hrvoje F.
Igor S.
Magdalena H.
Tomislav Č.
Dominik Gj.
Tomislav I.,

Together with Rene, two other coaches led the training sessions.

Final remarks after of the experimental training: for a person like me without previous expertise in this field, this was a very useful experience, witnessing how young people adapt and accept a new sport to communicate and cooperate with the environment. Judo, as a contact sport, gave people the opportunity to prove their motor, balance skills and strength to each other. It is especially interesting to witness how they communicated with each other, following the regular rules and concepts of judo fighting.

Judo is a sport that we recommend other clubs to use in order to give people with mental disabilities a new perspective and a new method for developing their motor and social skills. Judo is a fantastic way to have fun and socialize.