Harghita County is a region in the centre of Romania, in eastern Transylvania, with the county seat at Miercurea Ciuc. The territory is made up of mountains and hills, ancient volcanic plateaus, and more densely inhabited river valleys. The geography of the place is important because it has been the breeding ground for the development of a passion for winter sports, of which ice hockey is undoubtedly the most appreciated.

In this context, no-one could have imagined that the local community would be so passionate about another sport, judo. The most obvious common point between winter sports and judo may seem a little trivial, since it is the colour white. On one side, that of the snow which covers everything in winter, and on the other, that of the judogi which adorn the local sports hall in the regional capital regularly

This was again the case recently, during the last event, in which more than 450 judoka from Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and Ukraine participated. Beyond the competition itself, the organisers were attracted to and impressed by a unique fact: five brothers and sisters practising the same sport at the same time in the same place. Seeing them evolve on the tatami, observers could only note their total commitment to judo, for the pleasure of practising and winning.

In the Kurko family, there are therefore: Sara Angyalka (11 years old), Jankó Bendeguz (10 years old), Stefania Luca (9 years old), Abel Botond (7 years old) and Benedek Bence (6 years old). They are from the region and are all members of the Judo Koka team.

It was thanks to their mother, who knew judo and appreciated its values, that they joined the local club. She knew that judo was not only a sport but also a philosophy and a way of life that could help her children become healthy adults. She was convinced that judo would nourish not only their bodies but also their souls.

“Every time I participate in a competition, I only want to win. I like to be the best. I love being on the podium and winning medals. Judo helps me both at school and at home. It disciplines and motivates me in everything I do. My dream is to participate in the Olympic Games,” explains Sara Angyalka Kurko.

Stefania Luca’s enthusiasm when talking about judo is just as contagious, “I just want to be first. I always want to be the first, to defeat all my opponents,” and ultimately she wants to have fun.

From now on, the parents of the five siblings are present at all competitions to support their children. Janos Kurko, the father, was in charge of the HC Csikszereda hockey team of Miercurea Ciuc. He was also the president of the Romanian Hockey Federation.

He was a little surprised at first when his children told him they wanted to start practising judo, "I didn't know much about it. One day, they came home, they were laughing, trying to hide a judogi and announced that they wanted to start practising this sport. I accepted, it was their choice. Every time they do judo, they feel good and they are themselves. They love judo, a sport I practised for 2 years when I was a child, that's all I can see."

“For us as a coach it is something unique,” say Sinka Szabolcs and Robert Florian Papp, the two coaches responsible for training the five children. “When we saw the five arrive, it was something special. They are part of two different groups but during training and competitions they support and motivate each other.”

On 28th October, during World Judo Day, Sara Angyalka, Jankó Bendeguz, Stefania Luca, Abel Botond and Benedek Bence participated in the event and in a judo competition, with all their passion and the energy that comes with their young age. Once again, they gave the best of themselves and added a little more white to the landscape of Harghita.

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