Tuesday 1 December 2020

Women in Judo - The Next Step?


Nellie with Noah a Junior Men's -81kg champ and silver medalist in the Men's - 81 kg. This year Noah won the Men's - 90kgs at the Auckland Open.   

Recently, Judo celebrated the 40th anniversary of women being able to compete at the World Championships, 

This event is cause for celebration and reflection.

We now see women athletes competing regularly and we have women coaches on the mat. But before we 'pat ourselves on the back' it is important that we don't think the fight for equity is over.

The key questions now are about women and their involvement in elite coaching. 

Admittedly there are women that run 'womens' teams but do we have any elite female coaches running squads or with responsibility for mixed national teams or tours?

I honestly don't know but one of my proudest achievements at Big Judo is recognisng that Nellie (my sister) is actually a better competitive coach and letting her lead our competitive programme. Big Judo is produces some good male competitors under Nellie's watch. 

More importantly we are gaining a generation of young men maturing that are used to seeing a woman in a pre-eminent position. Not a 'womens' coach but a competition coach.

Nellie is pretty exceptional but possibly her work at Big Judo is pointing towards a future in which female coaches are fully accepted and recognised by being selected to lead mixed teams, squads and tours rather than women just coaching women. 

It is a big step and there will be lots of people out there who will roll out the 'tired old lines' about women's Judo not being as competitive and women not being able to coach 'mens' Judo.

But my experience is that Nellie seems to be doing OK so maybe it is time to encourage more female coaches to step into leadership positions.