Libya recently made the headlines following the catastrophic floods which devastated the country and left thousands of people losing loved ones. As if the climate change consequences were not enough, the country has experienced years of conflict that have left it bloodless. However, in all these difficulties, there are also areas of hope and one of them is linked to judo. In 2021, the Libyan Judo Federation officially launched its Judo in Schools programme and with success.

Abdussalam Sheflu is the Secretary General of the federation, led by President Aghil Mousa, and he explained, "After the initial success of the launch of the programme, the number of schools in the capital city, Tripoli, has increased to four judo schools for children. We also have two schools in Al-Zawiya city about 50 kilometres from Tripoli and two in Misrata city, 200 kilometres away. We are planning to launch similar activities in eastern cities, about 1,200 kilometres east of the capital."

All the efforts were worth it as the number of children practising judo has now reached approximately 450. Supported by the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Education, the programme is developing steadily.

Abdussalam Sheflu explained, "The goal of the project is to relieve psychological pressure on children who have been affected by the years of war in recent times. It will also help to increase the number of judo practitioners." The objective for 2023 is to reach ten schools, which will represent about 1,000 young people.

"Everyone welcomed this well prepared and organised programme openly, especially the fathers and mothers, who expressed their willingness to provide help and assistance to make it a success. They could see the benefits for their children clearly. They understand that their time is well occupied with practising judo. This is especially valid for the young ones, who are therefore not wasting their time in wrong-doing or negative pastimes," said Abdussalam Sheflu.

Due to the turmoil that Libya went through, the number of judo practitioners in Libya is not very high now but the judo federation is doing its utmost, trying to grow the sport of judo again. The number of athletes currently active is about 1,650 from various categories. Twelve judo clubs are concentrated in the western region of Libya and the federation is working on spreading the sport in the eastern regions with the IJF’s support along with tatami and judogi donations.

The Judo in Schools programme will definitely help to increase the number of judoka. In the future it will also help to build the foundations of the national team, with the objective of being competitive at the 2028 Olympic Games and onwards.

With a more stable situation in the country, the federation is also willing to organise big events including the Arab and African championships. Yes times have been difficult in Libya, but there is hope and part of that hope has a name, it's called judo. So let's hope and let's do judo!

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