Judo season underway for Labrador Straits Academy club
Didier Naulleau teaching classes since 2014
The Labrador Straits Academy Judo Club is up and running again for the 201819 season.
Didier Naulleau, the club’s head coach, started the club in 2014.
Originally from France, Naulleau taught Judo during his military career.
After he and his wife Barbara moved to Pinware, Labrador, in 2013, he became interested in offering Judo training in the area.
He contacted the principal at Labrador Straits Academy in L’Anse au Loup about using the school’s gymnasium as home base for the club.
The principal agreed.
The sport is taught as an extra-curricular activity, free-of-charge to students as young as Kindergarten until they finish high school.
“All they have to pay is their admission to Judo Canada and Judo Newfoundland and Labrador,” Naulleau said.
Adults are also welcome to join, he said. They are charged a fee for instruction which goes back into the children’s program to offset travel costs.
When the club first opened, he said, about 40 students signed up to learn the martial art.
The number of competitors is now steady at 25, Naulleau said, with several athletes being at provincial competition level and ready to move to the national stage.
Several of the competitors had a chance at the 2019 Canada Winter Games Judo selection process. However, Naulleau said, they could not pursue the opportunity because of lack of funds; the mandatory training required is very expensive.
The club does have a parent committee, however, that fundraises to take some club members to tournaments out of the area.
“I’m hoping to send four of my top (athletes) to the Atlantic Games which will be held in Halifax in March (2019),” Naulleau said.
In addition to the school, Naulleau said, the Newfoundland and Labrador Judo Association as well as numerous businesses have also supported the club.
However, he said, without the parents’ continuous support the club would not be able to operate.
Fourteen year old T.J. Flynn of Forteau is a member of the club.
His mother, Noreen, helps raise money to get the children to competitions.
“When they go to tournaments all of the parents go in our own vehicles because we want to be there with them,” she said.
T.J. said while Judo is a single-person sport, it also gives you a sense of what team work is all about.
“Basically, the entire build-up to every single tournament is a group of people helping each other to get better. And that’s pretty amazing,” he T.J. said.
Katrina Buckle of Forteau has two children in the club – 10-year-old Taylor and 12-year-old Lucas.
Lucas is a provincial champ in his category.
“Judo makes you very athletic and competitive,” Lucas said.
“Coach Naulleau shows me and my other teammates how to do everything by step,” he said.
Lucas’s mother said being part of the Judo club is an awesome experience for her children.
“It shows them discipline and they really enjoy it. (The coach) is awesome with them,” she said.
Buckle said with more sponsorship and financial support the club could travel more even to clubs in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Corner Brook.
“We could have little tournaments between us,” she said.
Naulleau said the athletes are doing great in the sport.
“I believe that we are just about to see, probably, the first Judo black belt on this coast,” he said.
Anyone interested in joining the club can contact Naulleau on Facebook at LSA Judo Club.
“I believe that we are just about to see, probably, the first Judo black belt on this coast.”
— Sensei Didier Naulleau
The Labrador Straits Academy Judo Club is open for its fifth season. Members of the club are, front row (left to right): Jonah Rowsell, Jax Ryland, Yashveen Gunput, Omar Ben Attia, Bentley Clarke; second row: Jesse Earle, Jayme Penney, Seth Piercey; third row: Kennedi Holley, Mohamed-Rayen Bouzid, Brendon Linstead; fourth row: James Penney, Julian Flynn, Marcus Flynn, Taylor Buckle, Nicole Flynn, Sensei Didier Naulleau; and back row: Michael Normore, Lucas Buckle, Keegan Fowler and T.J. Flynn.