It is bittersweet that this is my final note to the Judo in Australia community having recently resigned as Chair of the Board of Judo Federation of Australia. I have recently been appointed the Deputy General Manager – Industry Capability at Sport Australia which necessitates my resignation. The impact of our commitment over the past five years to cementing ourselves as a values driven, professionally governed organisation with a culture of excellence from
The boardroom to the tatami is now being felt across the sport nationally and internationally.
Despite our challenges, judo in Australia has so much to be thankful for and I am grateful to have had the chance to share the journey through the past 5 years with each of you. Through all the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud of the adaptability, innovation and resilience of everyone within the sport. We will come out of this and when we do, we will value the role of judo in our lives even more than ever before.
We commenced 2019 with a new vision for Judo in Australia – more people engaging with Judo more often, more places – for life! Bringing to life this vision has been a combined effort of all within our sport and Judo has stamped its place in the Australian Sporting landscape as a truly inclusive sport. The landscape in which we operate continues to change at a rapid rate, and our challenge is to work together to ensure we all understand how we can contribute to achieving this goal – clubs, states and JA – we are not in competition with each other! Focussing on how we can leverage each other’s strengths in the system is going to be critical to future growth and success.
There is so much we have achieved over the past 5 years that I am immensely proud of. I cannot possibly list them all but will call out a (short) list:
We were the first Combat Sport to be accepted into Sporting Schools and I am certain that, on the ‘green and gold’ runway to Brisbane 2032, that exposing our children to judo through sporting schools is going to become more and more critical to growth of participation;
The quality and number of events that are being run across the country from our exceptional National Championships to small local events. These events are a huge opportunity to continue to grow and give our judokas something to work towards. The OJU Open in Perth in November 2019 was a marquee event for Judo in Australia and I expect that if we keep a focus on strong international relationships, growing our investment in event infrastructure and continue to recruit, develop and retain our volunteer workforce we could become a world leader in delivery of events;
Our continued focus on improving and implementing our Grading Policy and our respected relationship with the Kodokan;
Our commitment to No Limits judo and ensuring that everyone in the Australian community can access judo and all the benefits it offers – mind and body;
Launching our Female Engagement and Participation Strategy on the eve of the National Championships at the Gold Coast in 2018. 2018 represented 30 years since female judokas first competed in the Olympic Games and I was honoured to make a presentation to Sue Williams, gold medallist from the 1988 Olympics, for her extraordinary achievement and for being a female pioneer of our sport;
The extensive stakeholder engagement process to develop our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. The success of the Plan relied upon the collaborative and unified efforts of JA, our Member States and all affiliated clubs. I have no doubt that you will continue to walk a single path together and will continue to make this great sport even stronger.
Significantly improved international results being achieved by our athletes under the leadership and direction of their coaches and our high performance team;
The launching of a modern and transformative Judo Australia brand with our Member States with complete branding alignment;
Establishment of a valuable relationship with the Saitama Prefecture, Ageo City and Ina Town including a signing ceremony in the Saitama Prefecture was represented by its Governor, Ageo City and Ina Town were represented by their respective Mayors;
Our volunteers, coaches, referees – you are EXTRAORDINARY! I literally cannot express my gratitude and respect for all you do. You are the lifeblood of this sport.
When I commenced as Chair of Judo Australia I never could have (or would have) imagined the personal and professional growth this role and sport would offer me. It is a testament to the Judo in Australia community that you welcomed me into our community to lead our Board. I was a woman in her early thirties, who had never had the privilege to tighten a belt around her waist but your trust, support, challenging and ultimately absolute commitment to inclusion and living our values has been apparent to me, to others in our community and the sport sector more widely. You led by electing me and the IJF followed by appointing me to a Commissioner position in 2018.
On 19 September 2019, one day prior to Judo Worlds, the IJF hosted its inaugural Conference on Gender Equity in Baku. I had the privilege of taking the floor as the last speaker of the day. “We know that men and women have different strengths – through thousands of years of evolution. We think differently. However, this difference in thinking is a huge opportunity.” I challenged the IJF with the creation of the IJF Male Champions of Change and an Annual Progress Reporting that would be publicly and transparently. This reporting is now being completed.
I encourage you to continue to ensure Judo Australia leads in this area. Women in leadership in judo aren’t just sitting in your executive committees, they are in your clubs, and they are in your dojos, and they are the mothers that pick judo as a sport for their children, they are the people that continue to encourage children to engage in our sport. They are also teachers and to optimise bringing judo into schools, they are your greatest advocates for the growth of judo.
I have had the privilege of getting to know so many of you and it is impossible to thank you all personally in this note, but I would like to thank to Neville Sharpe, my predecessor and Simon Read my successor for all your counsel and support. I will retain my IJF Commission position, and my sons will be on the tatami in Canberra. I will not be a stranger to the sport.
As Jigoro Kano said “Before and after practicing Judo or engaging in a match, opponents bow to each other. Bowing is an expression of gratitude and respect. In effect, you are thanking your opponent for giving you the opportunity to improve your technique”. So, it is with pride and humility I take my final bow as Chair of Judo Australia and thank you all for the improvement you have offered me.
Yours in judo,