Author: Sanan SHAFIZADE
Daniel Lascau is an internationally renowned Romanian and German judoka. He was Romanian champion, German championship medallist, world champion and a competitor at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. In recent years, Lascau has been one of the leading experts of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Academy and the head of its Referee Committee. He is one of those individuals who have played an instrumental role in developing judo in the world and taking it to the next level.
Daniel Lascau has recently visited Baku once again. Together with his colleagues he conducted a certified coaching programme as part of the IJF Academy. Lascau took exams from Azerbaijani coaches and presented certificates to the successful ones. It is clear the availability of qualified specialists is equally important for the development of the Azerbaijani sport along with good infrastructure.
We asked Daniel LASCAU to answer a few questions about his vision for the state and future of judo in Azerbaijan.
“Last year you conducted courses for Azerbaijani judges at the IJF Academy. This time you conduct the final exams for coaches. How do you assess the knowledge of local referees and coaches?”
“My first visit to Azerbaijan was in 2003 during the European Cadet Championship. Twenty years ago. I have been coming back to Azerbaijan every year for various reasons related to my professional activities—tournaments, seminars, etc. Last year, the Azerbaijan Judo Federation launched a big program for the development and education of coaches and referees. We have held plenty of meetings and courses within the program. I would like to specially note that the national federation is paying great attention to development of judo at all levels, weather it is for children, juniors or first team athletes. Last year, I came to Baku twice and met with coaches and referees with whom we talked about the realities of modern judo and the program for educating successful athletes from the early years. Because judo starts with kids, from the moment they start their education at school.”
“What does one need to pay most attention to in order to become a successful judoka?”
“One has to start at an early age. Every child wants to run, swim, wrestle. And when they start judo, we give them that opportunity - they can run around the tatami and express themselves. This is a kind of basic education for their further development. There are over a hundred techniques in judo, and coaches have to gradually pass each one on to their students so that they can be successful in the future. Judo is practiced by about 80% of children. The pinnacle of many years of study and hard training are the Olympic and world champions, who become role models for aspiring athletes.
“It is also important to ensure the state support in this area. Azerbaijan is on the lead on in this matter. We are talking to you in a three-storey building of the club Judo 2012, where we can see tatami on every floor. It is a real judo factory.”
“The IJF Academy and Azerbaijan have conducted training sessions in many countries. In which countries have they been particularly effective?
“I would like to mention Turkey and Georgia, neighbours of Azerbaijan. We saw effective results in Turkey, which is very close to you. It is the first country to translate the course of the academy into Turkish. Over the last two years, the program has trained more than a hundred coaches there, some of them have only recently finished their sporting careers. Judo is well developed in Georgia too. Their coaches have passed our academy programme, and some of them have already taken up classes with kids. Today Georgia has a whole army of athletes who are able to shine in judo competitions, including world championships.”
“How do you find the state of the Azerbaijani judo school?”
“One of the key qualities of Caucasian judokas is the spirit of wrestling. It is in their blood, thanks to national values and culture. It is very interesting to watch how Azerbaijani athletes decide the outcome of bouts in the last seconds, crushing their rivals with spectacular techniques, and win medals. This cannot be taught, it is at genetic level. We have seen your athletes' drive and determination at prestigious competitions. This experience must be passed on to the next generation.”
“Azerbaijan is home for one world champion and two Olympic champions. At every Olympic Games, Azerbaijani athletes are expected to win gold medals. How do you see the future of judo in Azerbaijan?”
“You have everything for the development of judo: funding, infrastructure to raise champions and, of course, personnel. The results of your teams are stable, with athletes performing confidently at almost all competitions. We can several talented athletes in the national team who carry on the traditions of previous generations in each style. So new big victories are undoubtedly around the corner. You just need to believe and move on.”
“The IJF has been making changes to the rules in recent years after the Olympic Games. Can we expect new changes in judo rules after the Paris Olympic Games 2024?”
“Usually we need a year in each cycle to test the changes. Athletes should gradually get used to them. Right now we don't have that opportunity, so everything will remain as it is until Paris. But after the Games, we have a few ideas for the further development of judo. For example, everyone wants to see spectacular fights, where competitors compete selflessly and do not get warned. It would be good to think about changes that would make judo more attractive.”