For Ayoub, who currently ranks number one in England in his weight category, judo is more than a sport.
“Judo teaches me the etiquette of life. It improves my manners, and teaches me how to be.”
Currently attending a boy’s school in south London, Ayoub admits: “Before, I’d find it funny to provoke people. But as you do more judo, it changes your personality and develops your character.”
A member of the Greenhouse Sports judo programme at his school for two years, Ayoub comes across as articulate, thoughtful, and respectful.
“I was a different person before. The sport has kept me out of trouble, and taught me how to help people, and how to treat people.”
Aged fourteen, he shows a level of commitment to his sport beyond his years. Part of this is thanks to his coach, Mike.
“He puts in a lot of effort. Other coaches might organise three sessions a week, but Mike is here three mornings and three after school sessions.”
Mike is impressed with Ayoub’s growth, a testament to his dedication.
“When Ayoub first came to me, I had to teach him the basics. But now he is number one in the UK. This is a huge achievement. Lots of training, lots of early mornings, lots of after school training, and it has all paid off.”
Not only is Ayoub number one in England, but he is also in Team GB. Looking to the future, he wants to enter the nationals and achieve gold. He will defend his title as number one in upcoming ranking events.
Ayoub did not always experience success in his fights. When Mike first began taking Ayoub to competitions, Ayoub remembers:
“I came out sad because I was not getting medals. But everything comes in its time, with commitment and determination. […] I worked hard, and during the London Open I beat someone from Team GB. Since then, I have believed in myself, believed in my coach, believed in my dad, and just worked hard.”
Through judo, Ayoub has gained more than technical skill and proficiency in the sport. Mike says: “With judo, you must think to solve a problem. You need to be calm to think ahead to what your next move could be to avoid a counter.”
This notion of remaining calm in a stressful situation is reflected in Ayoub’s everyday life:
“If I was outside and someone tried to pick a fight with me, my old mentality would be to go and try and fight them. I would be impacted by their behaviour. But as a judo player, I react calmly and think twice.”
This year, Ayoub will take tests to determine his GCSE groups. As a result, he has to reduce his training schedule. But he and Mike collaborate to create a programme that balances his training and studying.
“Judo teaches me how to be patient, with both my studies and my training. So, it will be helpful for me during my exams.”