Sunday, July 16, 2017

Full teams & self-funded players


Russia is sending a full team

Latest Update

Germany is sending a full team!


If my memory serves me well, it's been some time since Germany has sent a full team to the World Championships. (Tks Iljana, for the heads up!)

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If you look at the countries that have already registered their players for the 2017 Budapest World Championships, you will notice that 5 countries have registered a full team. That means 18 players (a maximum of 9 per gender is allowed). They are

a) Brazil
b) China
c) France
d) Russia
e) United States

Japan is not yet registered and it would be expected that they would send a full team although this is not certain as there were some earlier reports that the women's category might not be filled with 9 players. South Korea and Mongolia have also not registered yet and again, one would expect that they would send a full team, but we shall see.

Of the five countries that have already registered, three are judo powerhouses: Brazil, France and Russia. China is a hardly a powerhouse although some of its female players have been world and Olympic champions. Its male team is starting to produce some good results but it's not a powerhouse... at least not yet. The US is also not a judo powerhouse, and with Kayla Harrison and Travis Stevens retired from competition, it is even less so now.

It's clear that both China and the US have the philosophy that it's important to expose its players to the World Championships so they can become world-class players. It's surprising that some other countries like the UK would not do the same. Surely the World's is a great opportunity for its up-and-coming players to gain invaluable experience.

Perhaps budget is a reason for not sending a full team. If that's the reason, any remaining vacant slots should be made available to the top ranked players to self-fund their way to the World's. Let's say the -66kg division is not being filled. Let whoever is the top player at -66kg pay his own way to Budapest. I'm sure most top athletes would take up such an offer even if they had to resort to donations or crowdfunding to pay for it. And if they really can't or won't self-fund, offer it to the next in line in the rankings. For sure filling up all 18 slots with a mixture of funded and self-funded players would not be a problem.

So, why don't more countries allow self-funding for big events like this? The usual reason given is that they don't want players who are not good enough to go there and perform badly (i.e. lose in the first round). But just look at the results of any World Championships or Olympics and you will find plenty of examples of top players losing in the first round. So that argument just doesn't hold water.

And even if a player does lose in the first round, the experience they will get of preparing for the worlds, of facing the nervousness before a fight, of learning to deal with the disappointment of losing and so on, are all important lessons that an up-and-coming fighter should learn. And they won't learn that if you force them to stay at home.

If more countries were to allow self-funding, there would be far more full teams than just five. I am sure a lot (if not all) those vacant slots would be filled up by self-funded ranked players who were not selected. Why not have more competitors rather than fewer?

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