The third and final interview we want to share with you (click the links for the first and second in this series) from the research behind the Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine ‘BJJ in Schools’ article is from Jamie Hussein, who heads up the Future Champions project in London (visit their Facebook page here). To read the article for which this interview was a source, pick up JJS #19.
How would you summarise your program in a sentence?
An organisation dedicated to inspiring and supporting young people in their dreams and goals.
How did you (or the founder, if it wasn’t you) go about setting up that program?
Three of us together in the UK, built on the ideas and work of Leao Teixeira in Rio, Brazil. We began by setting up a pilot project in partnership with the Met Police and a local authority primary school.
What was the biggest obstacle to getting the program underway?
In one word, Money.
What would you say has been the program’s biggest achievement to date?
Taking a 13 year old, who had been with us from the very first session here in the UK, to Abu Dhabi to compete at the World Pro Cup. He met with world champions, trained at the ADCC and on the mats at the Officers Club hotel (where the many top level competitors are based for the week): it was an invaluable trip for his BJJ journey. But more than that, it made it all worthwhile seeing the smile on his face when he swam in the sea for the first time!
We’re also supporting another remarkable young man, in his application to Cambridge University for 2014, fingers crossed.
What has been the biggest ongoing challenge?
Again, money. We began in 2008, just at the beginning of the financial collapse, which has been hard to contend with, but this also positively shows what we can achieve on pure goodwill alone. Another major challenge was trying to get the continuing and ongoing support from the Met Police in the pilot project we started together.
What are the main benefits you feel the children get out of your program?
Respect for themselves, the discipline to succeed in anything they choose to do and a sense of responsibility for their actions. We hope that they not only succeed in their chosen field, but they remember their duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and become a champion in the truest sense of the word.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add regarding your program?
Our project is just one of many out there around the country trying to do what is right in relation to children and young people. We hope that the government wakes up and realises, before it is too late, that schooling is not just about passing a test. Sports and martial arts in particular are an important tool in providing a much needed balance in the education of our young people.
Pictures courtesy of Jamie Hussein