Gosport host French invasion

Members of Gosport Judo Kwai and French club Audrieu

Members of Gosport Judo Kwai and French club Audrieu

Kyle Bennett, centre, celebrates scoring in the 4-0 win at Colchester last month Picture: Joe Pepler

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Gosport Judo Kwai contended with a friendly French invasion on a jam-packed weekend of action.

The club cemented their links with Normandy outfit Audrieu as they continued their long-running exchange with their counterparts from across the Channel.

Around 160 people were involved in a three-day programme culminating in a ‘randori’ competition.

Before that, two sessions were held at Gosport, which were overseen by Great Britain coaches Derek and Sarah Hopkins.

There may have been a competitive element to the exchange, with Audrieu coming out on top of the overall event.

But the programme is about more than that, with the focus on building links between the clubs.

And that certainly was the case as the exchange continues to grow in size year on year.

Gosport coach Dave Mitchell believes the weekend laid the foundations for long-term friendships to be formed.

He said: ‘We hosted the families over the weekend for three days.

‘It’s a family thing, really, with training and then a small competition at the end of it.

‘It’s the eighth year we’ve done it now and it’s really grown since we originally went to visit them.

‘We make sure they are looked after.

‘Derek Hopkins, the GB coach, is a fifth dan and a part of our club.

‘He took the session along with his wife, Sarah.

‘They go all over the world for masters events so it was good to have them take the sessions.

‘On the Sunday we held a small competition for juniors and seniors.

‘It’s more of a family weekend, but it’s good to have that bit of competition.

‘Everyone enjoys it and there are a lot of friends made.

‘It’s grown from the start when we went there and it’s built up over the years. It’s definitely worthwhile and people enjoy the whole occasion.’

Gosport will now travel the Channel next year when Audrieu play host to them in the next stage of the exchange.

Mitchell said: ‘We will now go over there next May and they will return the favour. That’s something we all look forward to.’

For more information on Gosport Judo Kwai and their junior and senior sessions, contact 07531 806555 or visit gosportjudo.com

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