This week during the European Junior Championships in Prague, we welcomed the referee, Jean Claude DJIMBI from Gabon to the African Judo Union.

This is in fact the first time that the EJU has welcomed a referee from outside the EJU list for a continental championship. Since President László TOTH took office, he has made it clear that one of his priorities is to expand communication and engagement beyond our own continent.

It was a very spontaneous decision, I was with the referee team after Oberwart [European Open] and we discussed development and cooperation with other continents and in this case, Jean Claude was one of the referees we wanted to invite. He has been in Europe for a long time and it was logical to have him with us, so together with Alexandr JATSKEVITCH we made the decision.

We want to show that Europe is open to everyone and I am very happy that he has accepted the invitation and we want to make an agreement with the IJF refereeing commission so that we can have this exchange with other continents and start showing our goodwill.

We are extremely fortunate as a continent to have many of the best referees in the world, most of whom we see regularly on the IJF World Judo Tour, and of course in our European Championships. Now we can ensure that, alongside the development of EJU referees, we can offer athletes the best possible support on the tatami with referees from all over the world. Djimbi was very happy to be part of this new movement,

I am very happy to be the first non-European to referee in the European championships, it’s a new experience and the president has opened the door to all the other non-European referees, with that we are writing history.

It has been said that judo is different from other sports and once again the president of the EJU shows that we have different values ​​from others. I am very happy to be the one chosen to pave the way for future referees. This experience has been a double success for me and it is a pleasure to work with European referees and I hope that others will also be able to live this experience and come to work here.

EJU Chief Referee Director Alexandr JATSKEVICH also welcomed the decision.

It was the decision of EJU president László TOTH, I think it was a good idea to have him here. I have known him for many years and I know that he has a high level of refereeing. There is always room for improvement and a time to change, in this case it is the experience that we share and as we can see here it worked, we are open to other continents, to have exchanges and if the possibility exists, then why not!

Author: Thea Cowen

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