Celebrating International Women's Day

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Posted: 07/03/2019

As today celebrates International Women's Day, we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate female participation and achievement in our sport. 

Judo prides itself in being a sport for all, welcoming anyone to the mat and providing a range of opportunities to get involved. At JudoScotland we are delighted to have seen an increase in our female membership, which we believe represents a breakdown in the barriers to sport. In 2015, 28% of our membership was female, which has now increased to 41% in 2019. 

We believe fundamental to increasing female participation in Judo is through the provision of accessible opportunities and pathways.  

Judo Girls Rock

Following on from the success of the Scottish Judo Team at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and from research highlighting that only 41% of girls aged 13-15 in Scotland meet the target of an hours physical activity a day, JudoScotland launched Scotland’s first girls-only Judo programme in 2016 – ‘Judo Girls Rock’.

Judo Girls Rock was designed to engage young females, a group at high risk of inactivity, through a 20 week Judo programme. The sessions focus on physical movement similar to dance, introducing judo gradually to maximise engagement. The sessions also incorporate workshops to encourage a healthy lifestyle, including topics from internet safety to healthy cooking. 

In total, 186 girls have engaged in our Judo Girls Rock programme. Every girl who joined the programme received their first years’ membership and opportunity to gain their first grade with JudoScotland free of charge. 98% of these members achieved their first grade in Judo following their engagement with Judo Girls Rock.

In addition, JudoScotland held the first Judo Girls Rock Skill sCool on the 18th March 2018 in Glasgow. This session saw 56 girls come together to practice with new people and experience Judo outside the club in a fun and friendly environment.  The session provided an ideal opportunity to show young girls the opportunities available to females in sport with the session being led by Judo Girls Rock coach Rebecca MacLean.  In order to create a positive and inspirational environment for the girls attending, Judo Scotland aimed to attract a largely female volunteer workforce, again reinforcing the different opportunities available in sport for females.

Volunteering Opportunities

JudoScotland also prides itself in promoting a number of ways to get involved in sport without competing; from coaching, refereeing, officiating or volunteering. You can read more about these opportunities here

Victoria Kirk of Tyrst Judo Club currently volunteers as a referee and says: "I enjoy giving back to a sport that has been a big part of my life. I started refereeing because i was injured and could no longer compete. Being a referee has allowed me to grow in confidence, make new friendships and even I met my partner through refereeing. I have gained a better understanding of judo and appreciate the complexities of competitions from a new perspective."

Demi Moffat of Just-Judo provides invaluable support to our Skills sCool and Judo Girls Rock initiatives. Demi says "I chose to get involved in with both SkillsCool and Judo Girls Rock to support young people to access the sport I love and offer opportunities to all, supporting equality.  Connecting young people through different means and allowing me to link two passions together my youth work and communities background with sport.

I have gained valuable experience, support and real sense of satisfaction from seeing young people realise their potential, whilst experiencing the sport that helped shape the person I am today".

Whilst Frances McManus of Irvine Judo Club initially started to help out at the Club through Judo Girls Rock. Frances says she has now built her confidence to take on a more prominent role within Irvine Judo Club as is delighted to now be working towards her Level 1 coaching qualification. Frances added "Volunteering allows me to give something back to Judo and also helps me progress in my own personal judo development".


We could not mention strong females within Judo without celebrating the success of three of our great talents within Judo-in-Scotland at present. 

Josie Steele of Highland Budokan Judo Club is one of our most successful Cadet Judoka. At just 18 years old, Josie has already celebrated success with Bronze at the European Youth Olympics in 2017 and at just 17 years old Josie was crowned Senior Champion (-57kg) at the Glasgow European Open 2018.

Finishing 5th in the 2018 European World Championships in Baku, 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion Sarah Adlington says Judo has made her the person she is today. Sarah added "Judo has taught me to be confident, resilient, and through Judo I have made some great memories and life long friends. It really is a sport for everyone and provides so many benefits both physically and mentally". 

Sally Conway has started 2019 as she means to go in with another Grand Slam Gold at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam last month. Winning every fight by ippon Sally now stretches her IJF World Tour gold medal tally to 6 with 19 total IJF World Tour medals making her the most successful British judoka ever on the World Tour.

Commenting on her Judo journey, Sally said “Judo really bought me out of my shell. It has thought me so much about myself. I found something I absolutely love by turning up and giving something I knew nothing about a go and I was hooked from the very first session. 

I have made life long friends doing judo and have been lucky enough to travel the world doing something I love and enjoy. 

I would recommend Judo to anyone. I think Judo has something to give to everyone and something for everyone to take from Judo. Whether that is to keep fit, learn different skills, to make friends and learn how to deal or cope better with the ups and downs (just to name a few). Judo is also great to instill respect and discipline.  It really is more than a sport. “

#IWD2019 #BalanceforBetter