Judo is a great sport for girls. It’s so so­cia­ble

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - THE ISSUES -

No one would dream of pick­ing a fight with Olympic judo medal­list Sally Con­way.

But when she was bul­lied at school as a shy 10-year-old girl, she took up judo to give her con­fi­dence and boost her self-es­teem.

“It brought me out of my shell. I loved it from the first ses­sion and never looked back,” said Sally, Scot­land’s first in­di­vid­ual Olympic medal­list in judo.

Now she is pass­ing on her love of the sport and en­cour­ag­ing young girls to take it up in her role as Judo Girls Rock am­bas­sador. The suc­cess­ful cam­paign has seen a 13.7% growth in ju­nior fe­male mem­ber­ship since its launch in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Ju­doscot­land.

“Judo is a great sport for girls as it’s so so­cia­ble,” says Sally, 31, who lifted bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“As soon as you step on the mat, you have a friend. And you’re get­ting fit and hav­ing fun.”

She is heart­ened by the up­take of Judo Girls Rock, which has seen 184 girls come through eight fe­male-only clubs around Scot­land.

“It’s fan­tas­tic to see so many girls try­ing the sport. I love walk­ing into a judo club and see­ing how much the girls are en­joy­ing them­selves. I keep up with them all on so­cial me­dia, which is fun.”

Judo Girls Rock helps girls over­come ob­sta­cles to tak­ing part in sport such as con­cerns about body im­age and lack of con­fi­dence.

Tony Pen­fold of Ju­doscot­land said: “We were con­cerned that although our elite women ath­letes were suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tion­ally, there was an im­bal­ance be­tween male and fe­male mem­ber­ship.

“It’s a phys­i­cal, close-con­tact sport so we en­sured each club has a fe­male coach on the mat at ev­ery ses­sion to help girls feel more com­fort­able in the judo en­vi­ron­ment. “We also pre­sented judo as a move­ment­based sport, like danc­ing.

“We are for­tu­nate to have Sally Con­way as an amaz­ing role model, who is keen and sup­port­ive of the young girls.”

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