Following an invitation from the Kaliva judo club in Greece to the BJC (North London Area) the Sobell judo club was able to take seven children plus Sampson Sampson, Bob Bushnell and a number of parents to represent the area and judo. The invitation was also extended to a judo club in Berlin - that started this judo exchange last year with Greece.
Day one Thursday 8th July
The trip was flawless from the start. Not only did we arrive on time but the first luggage off the conveyor belt in Athens airport, was ours. So, we were able to meet our hosts very quickly. Once outside we were met by three of the Greek club's top officials.
- Dimitrus Divans (The club president);
- IIias Bremetus (Senior Instructor);
- Kostas Alexaboulos (Club Manager); and,
- Dimitrus Geroiannis with his wife Loanna (tour administrators were the main link with Sampson)
We were taken by coach to our hotel where after sorting out our rooms we were invited to supper at a local beach bar restaurant.
Day Two Friday 9th July
Our first day of judo - in 32 degree temp. IIias introduced Sampson and me to the others and welcomed all the students from England, Germany and two students from Russia who were on holiday in Greece. The class was about 40/50 strong but they gave their apologies for the lack of students and explained that some had already gone on holiday, plus a large number from Germany had their flight cancelled due to a strike in Germany. The class consisted of approx 60% juniors and 40% youths, some of whom were in the Greek Olympic team.
IIias started the session very lightly and soon moved on to randori. I can assure you all were very happy when the session ended to get back to our hotel for some R&R round the pool and to cool off.
That evening we were invited to attend a reception in honour of our visit. We were collected by coach and taken to a very large restaurant where all the Greek and the German teams were waiting to meet us. In total there was about 80/90 people sitting down to dine. Dimitrus Geroiannis had arranged some very special guests of honour.
First to speak was Mayor Petro Philipou followed by the Mayoral candidate Christina Chrisofohe. That was followed by the German Embassy culture attaché Susanna Schuler and the German senior judo instructor Marco Meissner. The last to speak was Sampson who thanked every one for the very warm welcome and said we will do every thing in our power to ensure this culture exchange continues to build and get stronger every year. At the end of Sam's speech he cordially invited both the German team and the Greek team to attend six days in England next year 2011. Both immediately stated they would be very delighted and happy to come. Gifts were exchanged at the end .It was also agreed to continue to build on this new friendship by communicating with each other throughout the year via e-mail and web sites.
We have already had one of the family from Greece asking if they can visit the Sobell Judo club in August when they come to London for a holiday.
Day Three Saturday 10th. July
Second judo day started with IIias asking Sam if he would like to lead the session. Sam being Sam said he would and blew them all away, as only Sam can, with his style of warming up and teaching. Some of the things Sam showed they had never seen. They were also amazed at his speed and knowledge, to the point they asked if he would take all the other sessions in the week.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in R& R at the beach - a well deserved rest!
Day Four Sunday 11th July
Today was judo free! We were taken by coach to Athens to visit the Acropolis, which was some amazing sight, that was followed by a visit to a museum which had glass floors. So as we walked around, we can see the archaeological digs below on each different level. We had lunch in Athens before being returning back to our hotel for more R&R round the pool.
Day Five Monday 12th July
Sam ended the week on a high with one of the best days of judo of the week. Everyone thanked him and stated they can not wait to visit us next year. Even the two Russian studnts said they would talk to their club coach when they returned back home about visiting us. That afternoon was more R&R by the pool and in the evening we were invited to a BBQ on the beach (As only the Greeks can do ) All the teams were there plus many of the students' families. The meal was superb and we all played games on the beach until mid-night.
Day Six Tuesday 13th July
After breakfast the coach arrived to take us to the airport. All the club officials came to the hotel as well as the airport to say their goodbyes.
In conclusion Sam and I felt the week was an 100% success and many friends have been made in the name of judo. It was very sad that we were only able to take seven children but every person there said they had a fantastic time so that can only be a good thing.
Sam and I have already started planning thing for the return visit.