Outstanding Dedication to judo – Rafid’s Story

01/03/2019 – Rafid, a member of the Fight for Peace London Academy, recently won an Outstanding Dedication to Judo award for his commitment and contribution to the sport. His coach Darren nominated him in recognition of the great strides he has made at Fight for Peace. “Rafid is an outstanding member of the Fight for Peace judo team, always there and now up beat – judo seems to be a good release for him!” explained Darren. “He was a very shy boy before, but now he helps during sessions and I feel that he is very valuable to the progress of the programme”, added his coach.

We sat down with Rafid to talk about how his confidence has grown through judo, and with the support of his coach, and what for him sets Fight for Peace apart.

I first came to Fight for Peace with a friend of mine at the end of 2015. It was his first time coming here too, and we both came along looking for something a bit different. My previous life was boring, other than school and home I wasn’t really doing anything. I started off doing Brazilian jiu jitsu, I am one of the shy people and so I felt more comfortable in BJJ where I wasn’t around too many people.

I started doing judo a bit by accident; the class switched over from jiu jitsu to judo but, not wearing my glasses, I didn’t see the changeover. I was quite confused at first! I like judo a lot but I still do both sports. but now I enjoy judo; I would probably say a bit more than BJJ!

If you asked me what I enjoy about Fight for Peace, I would say that it’s different from all the other places out there. Other places can be very formal. Here, when I come into the reception area there are people saying hi with a smile on their face, and I just love that. This really sets my day. And then I go to judo and Darren my coach is a bit of a crazy man – he is not the boring type! And the lessons are always fun – he’s a brilliant coach. Actually, I see him as less of a coach and more of a mate that I can always turn to for support.

The main change that I’ve noticed from coming here is that my confidence has gone up massively. I was always that person who sat in the corner, not speaking to anyone before I came here. Now though, I walk around talking to different people, coaching new people, helping get them started – I really like that actually. I may want to do a bit more coaching further down the line. I just love coming and sitting in the hub here at the Academy, because everybody talks to you – and sometimes there is a dog called Candy around! In particular, the guys in the hub help me loads with my depression that I am dealing with. Sometimes I have one to one sessions where the staff at Fight for Peace show me ways to cope and deal with it.

Outside of Fight for Peace, I’m at college. I’m looking to set up a sports centre with some of my friends. I’ve got friends who are gymnastics instructors. But it won’t be like a traditional sports centre, I want it to be like it is here, where sport is just one aspect and the focus is on helping people with all of the other things. I actually got the idea from here!

The award that I won; I actually have no idea how it happened! But it made me feel quite proud, it is one of the first things I think I have genuinely achieved, I genuinely feel like I have earned it.