A photo of some of the children who took part in the class.
Members of the Loretta Doyle class are all smiles as they take in a class.

The Scottish judo community recently got behind Kavan Majidi, who trains with Edinburgh Judo Club, as he competed at the World Championship in Doha as a member of the IJF Refugee Team, however, the impact of Judo on the Refugee Community in Scotland goes much further.


The UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, estimates that there are 32.5 million refugees worldwide as of mid-2022. In 2001, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan founded the Office on Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), advocating sport as having “an almost unmatched role to play in promoting understanding, healing wounds, mobilising support for social causes, and breaking down barriers”. Recognising that Judo can provide a positive release of energy for those that have suffered the trauma of war, three groups in the West of Scotland are providing opportunities to support the refugee community.


In North Ayrshire, The Loretta Doyle Foundation has started a 13-week programme designed to enrich the lives of 20 Iraqi refugee children and young adults who have been rehoused in the area by the Scottish Government and local authorities. Which will shortly be followed soon by another programme for Ukrainian refugees in the same proximity.


Not only does the class aim to help these new judokas achieve their first grade, it offers so much more. Bringing refugees into the judo family provides a sense of belonging and social connection that might overwise be missing in their new alien circumstances, away from their homeland.

World and European Judo Champion, Loretta explains the purpose of the foundation, “I’ve had a good life through Judo. I now want this Foundation to give to others what Judo has given to me… to share the benefits that Judo can provide with those who are disadvantaged in life for whatever reason their age, poverty, illness, physical or mental incapacity.”

Loretta Doyle takes a class in North Ayrshire

Meanwhile, Clyde Judo Club will be hosting a 12-week programme to support refugees in Erskine, with the hope to expand in the surrounding areas. The project aims to integrate those taking part into the Judo community, helping them to find clubs in the local area when they are re-housed to provide a level of stability through Judo.


In Glasgow, Pro Judo is offering refugees in the area free Judo sessions at all their club venues, which they have been able to fund through their charitable arm Sporting Chances Alba. For the club, integrating with all communities in the areas run is just the norm, Stuart Mallan Pro Judo Trustee added: “We are operating as a club to provide a community resource, for us that just happens to be Judo.”


Through building relationships with local community groups, the club has been able to welcome seven refugees to participate in free judo sessions recreationally right through to participating on the JudoScotland Talent Development Squad and also supporting Kavan before he moved on to train in Edinburgh. Providing them with the support they need to participate in mainstream judo classes, Stuart added “Sporting Chances allows for us to go above and beyond for our members that need it.”. But it isn’t just the club, parents and club members have also gone above and beyond to support the most vulnerable members of their club, with one parent providing two bikes to young judoka who had no transport to get to their judo classes.


We know that these three groups are not the only clubs in Scotland living the Judo values through their community outreach work, if you have a story that you would like to share with us, please email info@judoscotland.com.


If you are a club looking to provide a similar opportunity but not sure where to start, contact a member of the JudoScotland Business Delivery Team on 0131 333 2981 or email info@judoscotland.com.