In part 3, Paul Calvert spoke with Kalman Samuels about the incredible sports facilities and programmes they have, currently benefiting thousands of disabled young people in Israel.
Paul: Sport is very important to you too isn’t it? Don’t you have a basketball team and do judo as well?
Kalman: We have several basketball teams.
They play and are totally inclusive in the local professional team, which is called Hapoel Jerusalem. We work hand in hand with them in a very professional way. So the youngsters have a trainer, uniforms, and they play in a league that we set up. It’s very exciting.
On the judo end, there is another fascinating story. Two years ago in Rio de Janeiro, an Israeli young man by the name of Ori Sasson, won the bronze medal in judo. He came back to Israel and decided that he was going to donate the suit that he wore when he won the medal to Shalva. We then auctioned it off and raised a lot of money for that suit. The person who bought it donated it back so it is on show in the sports department. It’s on the wall.
Under Ori’s direction, we began with those funds, a judo programme for our kids.
One of the sets of children we have here, is a group of 50 youngsters who are not mentally challenged, but environmentally challenged. They are kids that grew up in homes that are very challenged homes, socially and economically. Every home has its own story. It’s very sad, and the children over the years have become environmentally impacted and damaged.
We were asked by the Government to create a programme for them. We did and one of the things that they enjoy is judo.
They are working at this on a regular basis, and many already have their first belt. I believe it is a yellow belt. When the European Judo Championships were here they actually put on a display that was televised all over Europe as to their skills, so we try to make something out of everything.