April 29, 2017
On 29 April 2017, in Peja/Pec, the town known with the Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peja/Pec, the UNESCO World Heritage, the regional Judo tournament called "Judo for Peace" was organized. This regional Judo tournament has been organized once a year with the aim of deepening friendship within the country and the region through Judo; and this was the 16th tournament this year. The tournament is being organized by Ippon Dojo in Peja/Pec with the Kosovo Judo Federation, to which Majlinda Kelmendi, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Gold medalist (Women's 52kg class) belongs. For this year's tournament, there was about 250 Judo-ka from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, UK, Romania and Japan.
Today in Kosovo Judo, in addition to Majlinda Kelmendi, there has been other players winning in world tournaments; and these are such as Nora Gjakova, who won in the European tournament (Women's 57kg class, bronze medal) and Distria Krasniqi, who won in the European Junior tournament (gold medal).
According to Mr. Agron Kuka, the President of the Kosovo Judo Federation, there have been growing interest among children who wish to practice Judo as well as parents who wish to let their children practice Judo; and the number of registration in Dojo (Judo practicing hall) in the country has been increasing. However, in the society where the unemployment rate is yet very high (nearly 35%), purchasing Judo uniform for practicing is not that easy for many of families; and therefore, in many cases, Dojo is providing uniforms to children so that they are able to participate in Judo practice. Furthermore, Mr. Kuka said that the federation is discussing with the Ministry of Education of Kosovo in order to include Judo within the school curriculum as Judo is not only for being strong but also enables children to learn good manners.
JICA provided the Kosovo Judo Federation with the medals and trophies that was provided to participants of the tournament; as well as 12 officially recognized uniforms that could be used by selected Judo players of Kosovo in future world competitions.
Today, Peja/Pec is the Mecca for Judo players in Kosovo; and it is being expected to have the country's first national dojo in two years. In Kosovo, there will be more children who wish to be like Majlinda Kelmendi who has been very active and famous in the world scene. We hope the federation will continue organizing Judo for Peace in years to come for Kosovo children so that they would be able to have wonderful opportunities to interact with young Judo-ka in the region and other countries.
Provided medals, trophies and official Judo uniforms at Ippon Dojo in Peja/Pec
The banner displayed at the main street in Peja/Pec
Famous Kosovo Judo-ka, Nora Gjakova (left) and Distria Krasniqi (right) at the venue
Mr. Driton Kuka, holding the opening speech at the tournament
Scene from the tournament