The UAE will be looking to nurture more future champions like Sergiu Toma. Image Credit: Courtesy: IJF

Dubai: The Sharjah Self-Defence (SSD) Sports Club will be undertaking the training and upkeep of local Emirati judo talent with an eye on international glory in the future.

“Once we are past this challenge [of the coronavirus pandemic] we will endeavour to sponsor our own athletes in judo so that the UAE flag is seen unfurled at international competitions around the world,” Mohammad Abdullah Bu Rahima, a member of Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club, said.

“Judo is an individual sport and our athletes have the capacity of shinning on a truly global stage in the future. The UAE Wrestling and Judo Federation (UAE WJF) has been doing its part in promoting individual sports, and it is our moral obligation to assist them.”

The announcement came during the fourth and final webinar entitled ‘Sharjah International Forum for Martial Sports’ that concluded late on Thursday. Each of the sessions dealt with the four self-defence disciplines of karate, judo, taekwondo and jiu-jitsu.

Organised by the Sharjah Self-Defence (SSD) Sports Club under the auspices of Sharjah Sports Council (SSC), the series of webinars brought together top world and regional champions in discussing the future of their sport, especially during the pandemic.

Thursday’s session had international champions Mariam Al Khulaifi and Alaa Al Din Shalabi of Tunisia joined by Mohammad Ali Abdel Al from Egypt, while international lecturer Dr. Salam Mohammad Al Khattat was the moderator.

Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Owais, who heads the board of members at SSD Sports Club, thanked Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al Darei, President of UAE WJF for giving the club assistance in realising its goal for the future.

Tunisian judoka Mariam Al Khulaifi
Tunisian judoka Mariam Al Khulaifi Image Credit: Supplied

Tunisia’s Al Khulaifi, who won the silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, insisted that family and federation support are important cogs in a judoka being successful. “Never have I seen my sport coming in the way of my academics,” said the 19-year-old former world No. 1 in the under-63kg category.

“Judo is a beautiful sport and is most suited for females. As committed athletes we need to make an effort to excel in our sport,” she urged.

Mohammad Ali Abdel Al

Egyptian judoka Abdel Al stressed on athletes making sacrifices in their careers in order to reach the pinnacle of sport. “There are no short cuts to success. I have struggled to achieve my first medal while losing all the time in the first few competitions,” the Egyptian said.

“But then after some time, winning became a habit. This time of pandemic has been a fresh challenge for me, but I have not stopped training even for a day. I am doubly inspired to get the better of this situation and at the same time I want to be at my best physically when the next competition comes along.”

Dr. Salam Mohammad Al Khattat

Iraqi lecturer Al Khattat confirmed that success on the mat went hand-in-hand with academic excellence. “The more the judoka excels in education, the more success he or she can expect because at the end of the day we have sportspersons who are the thinking type,” Al Khattat said.

“Another important thing is the promotion of the mental aspect of sport while participating in sports forums so that the athlete and the sport are on the same page. Such all-round formation only goes delivering a more balanced athlete, who in turn, has the capacity to inspire others within the community.”