Recently my colleague Bill Caldwell of the San Shi Judo Dojo in San Diego connected me via a Zoom meeting with Friba Rezayee an elite female judoka from Afghanistan along with her coach Farhad Hazrati and Qudsia Khalili her fellow elite female judoka teammate.
1. Friba notes that Judo, and athletics in general have been terribly important for Afghan girls and women. Maybe because of a long history of suffering, Friba says that the Afghan people value sports and education. Body, mind, and spirit to improve the self and society. Sounds like something ripped from Kano-Shahan’s playbook, right?
2. Friba hopes you might highlight Coach Farhad, Ms. Qudsia, and the Afghan 2024 Olympic effort. Their status is not assured, they need our help. The Texas visit, for example. Friba notes that they are maybe too shy to ask.
3. Pushed a little bit further, she notes that she and many others are still working on evacuation. This is more than a women’s rights issue, but a sincere right to life situation. I think that is why she is steering you to her letter to the Canadian government, as an example of something she hopes the Judo community can communicate to their governments, wherever they are.
Friba Rezayee is the founder and the Executive Director of Women Leaders of Tomorrow and its leadership in sports project GOAL (Girls of Afghanistan Lead). She was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 18, she made history by competing in Judo at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as Afghanistan’s first ever female Olympic athlete.
Friba’s participation in the Olympics brought Afghanistan back to the world stage in sports after the fall of the Taliban. She inspired hundreds of other Afghan girls to join different sports, in a sports revolution for Afghan female athletes.
Friba has resided in Vancouver, Canada since 2011 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
Friba has been an outspoken and passionate advocate for women and girls’ education, gender equality, human rights, and women’s rights in Afghanistan and worldwide from an early age to present. She is currently working as an educator in the Vancouver, Canada public school system.
Farhad is a senior Judo coach with over two decades of experience. He has led the Afghan national Judo team from early 2000 to present. He has trained and prepared the Afghan national team from local competitions to world tournaments. Coach Hazrati has also trained many Afghan Judokas to prepare for the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Olympic games. He is the head of Afghan girls’ national Judo team as well senior coach and advisor to the GOAL initiative.
Coach Hazrati has worked and collaborated with the members of IOC (International Olympic Committee) and IJF (International Judo Federation). Coach Farhad is now in Uzbekistan.
Friba, regarding the zoom call, Gary is interested in the situation of Afghan judoka generally, particularly the women who are at special risk. I’d add any incremental success stories, or at least the current situation generally. Not comfortable, but part of the story, could you share a summary and maybe photos of the situation in your home country?
18th Saturday – Sensei Gary’s Birthday Scrimmage Video, Claremont, CA
24th Friday & 26th Sunday – National Junior Olympics, San Jose, CA
17th Sunday – California State Games Judo Event, San Diego, CA21st Thursday to 24th Sunday – Grassroots Judo Summer Nationals, Ft. Lauderdale, FL28th Thursday to 31st Sunday – U.S. Open, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
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