Hosting its national coaching conference in Squamish this past weekend proved to be a good train of thought for Judo Canada officials.
The CN Roundhouse and Conference Centre at the railway park saw close to 60 of the top coaches from across the country discuss coaching techniques and glean tips from former bronze medallist Nuno Delgado from Portugal.
It was Delgado’s first trip to North America and he said he was wowed by the scenery in Squamish.
“It was an amazing weekend,” he said, of the conference that lasted from Friday to Sunday (Oct. 26 to 28). “The landscape here was very powerful and I would wake up in the morning after my meditation and watch the mountains poke out from the clouds.”
Delgado won a judo bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in the under-81-kilogram category and said judo is a metaphor for life.
“It can be used for self-defence and you’re always training your mind and body to improve,” he said. “You have to learn how to interact with other individuals and groups if you want to get better and if you do that, the sport can be very beneficial for everyone.”
Canada made an impact at the 2012 Summer Olympics in judo, with Antoine Valois-Fortier picking up a bronze in the half-middleweight division. Delgado said there is a lot of potential for the sport in Canada.
“Canada has always had great competitors but I think with a little more organization and more funding that Canada could become a real power,” he said.
Delgado, who holds a fifth dan black belt rank, trains more than 2,000 kids in his school in Lisbon. He shared some of those teaching techniques at the conference.
According to Bruce Kamstra of B.C Judo, getting Delgado and badminton star Anna Rice to chat about coaching methods was invaluable for the group.
“For them to come to talk to us about how to teach our children to go from the playground to the podium was so important for us,” he said. “They really stressed the importance of grassroots programs and we realized we need to do conferences like this more often.”
Friday saw Delgado lead a presentation, then conference attendees headed to the Roundhouse Centre on Saturday for two, three-hour on-mat sessions, with lunch in between. Rice made her presentation in the evening. The conference concluded on Sunday with more on-mat sessions and a PowerPoint presentation from Delgado.
Kamstra, who helped train Valois-Fortier, said he’s seen firsthand the benefits of judo.
“I watched his bronze medal match live and was almost crying when he won the bronze,” he said. “The philosophy behind judo is to help develop a person both mentally and emotionally and it can also be used as a self-defence method.”
He encouraged youth to get involved in the sport and noted that he has students from ages five to 50 in his classes. Kamstra said it’s the second year that Judo Canada has hosted a coaching conference and that there’s a possibility that it could return to Squamish next year.
For more information on the sport locally, visit www.judobc.ca.