IJF President Marius Vizer (second right) and Nicolas Messner (third right) collected the International Creative Organisation Award ©IJF

International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer and head director of the Judo for Peace Commission, Nicolas Messner, have received the International Creative Organisation Award at the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Creative Sports Awards ceremony in Dubai.

The IJF’s efforts in bringing judo and its values to children in the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey, located on the border with Syria, was announced as the winner of the award during December.

Run on a weekly basis, the programme has seen the IJF provide coaches and equipment to the camp, in which around 17,000 Syrians, of which 10,000 are aged under 15-years-old, are believed to live.

Around 300 children have benefited from the programme, which has been run in partnership with the Turkish Judo Federation, Turkish authorities and the management of the refugee camp.

“I want to help those children meet their dreams,” Messner said when receiving the award.

“It is based on the principle of non-discrimination of any kind, and of maximum efficiency with minimum effort.

“Visiting the camps and joining in with the children learning judo has been an eye-opener.

“When the children had put on the judo uniform it had transformed them and united them, and it was helping to divert the children’s thinking from the horrors of war and conflict."

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein was given the Local Sports Figure award
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein was given the Local Sports Figure award ©FEI

Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) members were allowed to submit one entry each for the award, and the submissions were then examined by a group of referees appointed by the award’s Board of Trustees.

ASOIF’s President Francesco Ricci Bitti and executive director Andrew Ryan praised the IJF’s project, which is located in an area where very few international organisations are able to work.

“ASOIF compliments the IJF on winning this prestigious award,” said Ricci Bitti. 

“The programme they have implemented in this refugee camp is exemplary and demonstrates how sport can make a big difference to young people who have been deprived of their homes, daily routine and leisure activities.

“We’d also like to express our gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum for recognising the valuable activities of sports Federations in this way.”

As the winning International Federation, the IJF were presented with a $250,000 (£165,000/€227,000) prize.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) also came away from the ceremony with awards, with their Honorary President and Goodwill Ambassador, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, claiming the Local Sports Figure award.

She was honoured for her work as FEI President from 2006 to 2014, as well as for establishing their global sport development programme, FEI Solidarity.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa was given the Arab Administrator Award, for his work as the second FEI vice-president and member of the Executive Board.

“For the FEI, it is particularly gratifying to see FEI Solidarity recognised in the award to our Honorary President Princess Haya, and to see our Second Vice President Sheikh Khalid honoured,” said Ingmar De Vos, FEI President.

“It is good to see their services and commitment to equestrian sport getting this recognition.”