12 Feb 2014Media releases
Olympic judo coach helps teenage asylum seekers
Mr Katz is one of Australia’s most experienced judo experts. He has coached athletes to three world championships and coached his wife Kerry to the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Mr Katz was also employed as Sports Services Manager to organise the judo competition for the 2000 Sydney Games.
Mr Katz said Shaheen and Hussain’s father approached him about the boys joining the club last year but said nothing of their plight.
“Their father called me first and said they were doing judo in Iran but hadn’t been training for a year,” Mr Katz said.
“Only later did I find out it was because they were in a detention centre.
“I thought it was amazing that one of the first things they wanted to do was get on a mat and start training in judo again.
“After a few weeks Ali called and said the boys were at home very upset because they had no money for judo.
“I said, if they want to train bring them down to the club and we’ll work something out.”
Rob said it was immediately obvious the boys had a passion and strong fighting spirit.
“Obviously they have been out of training for a year, so some of the technique isn’t quite there but what they have is fight. They know how to fight and you can’t always teach that.”
Rob said Shaheen and Hussain were good enough to make the NSW team if they could compete at the qualifying competitions in Canberra, Queensland and Shoalhaven and participate at State Squad training.
The brothers said they were extremely thankful for their coach’s support.
”He is a very nice man, very kind,” Hussain said.
Hussain added that he hoped to represent NSW and one day compete for Australia.
“I like judo because I see it on TV at Olympic Games,” he said.
“One day I want to be like them and go to Olympic Games for Australia.”
SSI and Budokan Judo Club are now appealing to anyone interested in sponsoring the boys to contact the club to discuss how they can support their campaign to make the NSW team.
Shaheen and Hussain next need to compete in the ACT International Open, February 22-23, in Canberra.
SSI Online Communications Coordinator, Callan Lawrence, 0478 156 491, or 02 8799 6746