Judo builds bridges in Burundi
Young people from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda came together peacefully at the Gatumba Community Youth Sport Centre in Burundi last weekend to share their passion for judo.
About the Community Youth Sport Centre
The multi-sport complex was jointly set up by the IOC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Burundi in September 2011. It is located in the border region with the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area known for tension and violence and sorely lacking in recreational infrastructure. The countries suffered from atrocious wars which resulted in mass slaughter and genocide. The centre attracts 10,000 young people, who use the facility to meet, talk and practise a wide range of sports.
Growing youth participation in sport
With the centre also including a judo ground, and the International Judo Federation (IJF) - through its partnership with the Burundian Judo Federation and the National Olympic Committee - actively supporting activities on the ground, youth participation in the sport has grown in the area: more and more clubs have been set up and have helped to integrate the sport into local schools.
The national judo team recently placed first in the East African Championships, and eight Burundian athletes will participate in this week’s African Championships taking place in Maputo, Mozambique. However, the success of the centre will certainly not be measured in medals, but in the success of the reconciliation process among the young generation from both sides of the border, with sport being the driving force.