Prince Edward Island is getting ready to take on the exciting and significant task of hosting the Winter 2023 Canada Games. Wondering how the judo bouts will go? Rest assured Robin Enman and his team of enthusiastic volunteers are committed to judo competitions running smoothly during the sports event in a few year’s time.
“The 2023 Canada Games will be a special kind of challenge, and I’m absolutely confident that everything will go well,” notes Mr. Enman, Judo PEI’s current High Performance Committee and Grading Committee Chairperson.
Mr. Enman is also the PEI’s judo team manager at the 2015 Prince George and 2019 Red Deer Canada Games, and is already planning a dress rehearsal of sorts next year, before the proverbial big event: “We plan to host the Atlantic Open in September 2022; so organizers and volunteers will get some experience to prepare for the Canada Games, and athletes will be able to familiarize themselves with the facilities.”
Hosting a competition with the best young judokas from every province and territory in the country is a thrill for the small island province, even if COVID-19 has made things a bit more challenging.
“In February 2023, we’ll be able to see how well each province has faired with everything, but I believe each will continue to be a podium contender. It’ll be fun to see the young judokas on the mat, giving it their all,” says Mr. Enman, who has been involved in judo for nearly 30 years.
Nicolas Gill, Judo Canada’s Executive Director and High Performance Director, explains how essential competition is. “The Canada Games are an important step toward the national team program and at the core of the provincial programs across the country. The 2023 edition will be a great opportunity to showcase and promote judo in the small but dynamic province of PEI where judo has been developped nicely over the last 10 years under the commitment of great volunteers like Robin. We feel privileged to have him leading the origination of such an important event for the judo community in Canada.”
Saul Hood, Judo PEI’s president, is proud to have the chance to show the knowledge of his province. “Being able to host the 2023 Winter Games give us the opportunity to show the rest of Canada that while we are small, we are able to offer high level competition. Judo PEI has always worked well together and the Canada Winter Games will be no exception. We are working diligently to provide a memorable experience for all athletes and coaches involved.”
Even greater cooperation
A former secretary, vice-president, and president of Judo PEI, Robin Enman, also Gravity Club sensei, knows his sport’s reality in Prince Edward Island – and the challenges that accompany it.
“We’re a small group: only four clubs in the province, and just under 200 members; every coach is involved in provincial activities. Our high performance committee makes selection decisions, and comprises two coaches from each club. Our province’s strength is really the willingness of our clubs to partner together. Athletes all need a variety of training partners and there are shortfalls in each club in terms of just the number of judokas – you can’t be everything to everyone – so we all work together to get ready for the Games. Within each club, there’s at least one athlete who needs to be with the best athletes in order to progress to the next level.”
While the pandemic has been and remains a real barrier to athlete development, it has had some positive side effects for PEI. “There’s often some competitiveness about getting to the tatami and being able to take part in the Canada Games. But the uncertainty of COVID-19 has made everything quite different this year, our cooperation is stronger than ever” says the physical education teacher at John J. Sark School in the Lennox Island First Nations community.
Robin Enman’s years of experience lead him to philosophize about the Prince Edward Island judo family: “The provincial flag has one big tree and three smaller ones. It’s kind of symbolic of judo’s situation here: together we can bridge the learning and training gap, and offer the best possible training to everyone – regardless of age, weight class, or gender. Judo PEI relies on athletes from all of our clubs – we’re stronger that way.”
“All clubs have a strength or specialty that can benefit the others, and when we come together as one larger team, each athlete’s strength in terms of their connection with their club become clear. The coaches treat all the athletes as if each were their own students.”
Looking for a judo club near you? Visit this page: judocanada.org/club-finder-tool/