After twelve successful editions, the curtain falls over the Flanders Judo Cup. Do not worry, however. After all, we are proud to announce that this tournament will be replaced by a European Judo Cup. We set the bar higher. However, since this involves a lot of work behind the scenes, the target date is 2020.
Everyone will agree. Flanders Judo Cup was a successful tournament. Why then is it said goodbye to such a successful event and is the VJF pulling the European card?
Take a look back. We can say that with the last twelve editions, the Flanders Judo Cup has grown into the largest youth tournament in Belgium and undoubtedly beyond. The last edition in Lommel in 2017, filled the Sovereign Arena with 734 talented athletes from three continents, a number of whom will undoubtedly make a name for themselves on the biggest international tournaments, such as the World Championship and the Olympic Games.
"Flanders Cup was a tournament that grew from 3 to 8 tatamis with an international occupation", according to Bart Geelen, Sports Coordinator of the VJF. "The success on a sporting level was undoubtedly due to the round-robin system during the preliminary rounds. This ensured that judoka's were not removed from the tournament after a lost camp, but continued to participate. Also the fact that a training camp was organized afterwards made the Flanders Cup an interesting destination for athletes from other continents. "
The close cooperation between all parties ensured a successful tournament. "Judo is a trio, the club, the city and the judo federation together made this a very strong cooperation," says Bart Geelen. "The city via mayor Peter Van Velthoven, gave the facilities and the opportunities with local partners such as Center Parcs De Vossemeren. The judo club of Lommel with Jean-Jacques Melotte as the driving force ensured the staff for the framework and the judo federation released the budgets and made through its connections in the international event that the tournament became known in the judo world and also provided the team of officials. This synergy resulted in a very strong team. "
The home club of the Flanders Judo Cup also organizes its own tournament, the Soeverein Judo Cup, and has decided to put its priorities there in the future. The city of Lommel has followed her club in it.
"As a result, we faced a dilemma", judges Bart Geelen. "Either the story ends here, but that would be a shame, or we would implement a strong international tournament elsewhere in Flanders. The latter was opted for. More ambitious, by the way. To host an international top tournament in Flanders for its own talent, especially U18. Meanwhile, we are in full negotiation with the European Judo Union (EJU) to get a European Judo Cup to Flanders. A number of cities and venues are still in the running. At the end of August, we hope to have a clear view of it for a first test edition in 2019 or more likely 2020. Everything also depends on the available data in the international judo calendar and the international competition, but we have a strong file. "
The main goal of the Flanders Cup was to give U15 and U18 judokas a first international experience in their own environment, but not at the European Cup level, a step just below. "With a European Judo Cup we are going to give our own U18 youth a chance to win international medals and to force selections to qualify for an European Championship or World Championship", says Technical Director Topsport Koen Sleeckx. "With U18 we can continue to grow. Work from the bottom up. We have promising athletes, we have to make sure they can get the maximum out of them. Ensure that the basis is broad enough that future champions can stand up. We have to think and invest in the long term. With the organization of a European Judo Cup the threshold is raised and the results become important. "