It’s longer than the gestation period of a shark eel; an anxious, difficult time marked by a pandemic, a time-space in which you have to be patient. It was worth the wait. After three years of biting their nails, Paraguayan kids can now do things they couldn’t before.
In 2019, the President of the Paraguayan Judo Federation, Sergio Canonnikov, met with the President of the International Judo Federation, Marius Wieser, in Budapest. Mr Kanonnikov wants to develop Judo in Paraguay, which like any other country does not offer many sports solutions other than football. This is not criticism, but reality.
Marius Vizer supplies water to the Paraguay plant and believes that Mr. Kanonnikoff is responsible for turning it into a project. To attract more people to the dojo, you have to start at the bottom. It’s that simple.
Thus was born a program to make judo an optional practice in all schools in the country. The problem is that it is one thing to say it and another to do it. First, the Paraguayan authorities must be persuaded. Second, the fire of hope must be kept alive throughout the pandemic, lest projects die through impatience. In the end, the children, and of course the parents, must be persuaded.
The International Judo Federation kept its promise and sent 350 tatami to follow the original path of the project. The Federation of Paraguay did the rest, which was well done.
Thanks to an excellent advertising campaign, it managed to attract the attention of children and parents whose interests were not always the same. The president himself, Sergio Konannikoff, explained this to us.
“Kids see it as a fun, fun activity that they can enjoy without hurting themselves. Parents know their kids are having fun while being educated.” That’s called hitting the target. The Federation of Paraguay would become a millionaire if a large company focused on the performance of the project.
Officially, it all started in May of this year. The contract is for one year, renewable. In less than a month, seven schools and 1,200 children have discovered the secrets of judo twice a week with smiles on their faces, and according to the president, four other schools have already asked to participate in the program. There are many other reasons for the success of Judo in Paraguay. New judo athletes are boys and girls, and in some cases, 80 percent are women. Another key is the quality of teaching, as the coaches are all national black belt coaches. Nothing happened, and after a month, the fruit was ripe.
It’s been a long time in the making, but when things are done professionally, time can be an ally. As for those kids, maybe one day we’ll see them in international competitions, big tournaments, maybe not, but Judo will definitely be with them for a lifetime.