By Caolite de Barra
In New South Wales, Australia, MMA has received state funding for its “ActiveKids Programme”. This aims to get school-aged kids into sport and active recreation. IMMAF qualified coach Julian Evans has been at the forefront of this initiative.
Under the programme, parents, guardians and carers will receive two $100 vouchers, one for each half of the year, for school enrolled children towards the cost of sports and recreation. The programme is now in its fourth year of existence which has seen 2.6 million vouchers redeemed.
The government’s continued investment in the future of school children in sport and active recreation has led to the programme’s popularity growing in NSW. Satisfaction levels are actively tracked, with the customer satisfaction rating currently standing at an impressive 99.8%.
Evans, who was involved in fitting the IMMAF Youth Policy into the New South Wales requirements, broke down how the process works:
“Generally speaking, the NSW goals are to increase children’s participation in physical activity, reduce obesity/overweight issues in children, and to overall change the physical activity and behaviours of children and young people in the state.”
“The process itself is quite streamlined now after several years of the program:
1) provide a structured program of a minimum of 8 weeks that contains moderate-intense levels of activity
2) provide personal and business details, relevant insurance, details of the activity
3) have appropriate accreditation for higher-risk activities and also Working with Children Check clearance”
The timing of the program has come at a crucial moment, where it can help kickstart sporting participation. MMA is growing rapidly in Australia, where activities in amateur MMA are thriving, and funding could prove to be a pivotal moment in the continued growth of the sport.
“We are at a critical time now at the tail-end of Covid factors where schools and sports are opening up once more. A renewed enthusiasm for any sports participation has already been seen.”
“Add to this the prominence of mixed martial arts in pop culture and the media, and the fact that there is an established syllabus that can be delivered safely and according to each student’s ability: this is a watershed moment for MMA to become a well-established standard programme for school students’ participation.”
Having completed both IMMAF qualifications, Evans is well equipped to deliver the program. He highlights how it can be seamlessly worked into current training schedules.
“The format that the IMMAF syllabus provides for me can naturally be fitted into the regular training timetable in my schools. We can train a mix of defence/offence/reversals and grappling every lesson, or we can dig deep into a specific technique and apply learnings from that in the development, for example, of combinations.”
This giant leap in growth for the sport in Australia will be a positive factor for parents as well. The programme will help ease the financial pressure of sport and allow peace of mind when it comes to delivery.
“The ActiveKids programme has been of critical importance in making my martial arts programs possible in schools, not least of which as it provides a lower financial entry point for parents.”
“There is also the reassurance that the programme being delivered has met the school’s requirements for safety and security – Working with Children Checks and all insurances, lesson plans, and 1st Aid readiness are all also pre-verified.”
“With IMMAF’s strategic priority being youth development, carefully crafted projects which attract public interest, and funding, are crucial to sustainable development,” said IMMAF President Kerrith Brown. “Yet again, our friends in Australia are blazing a trail in amateur MMA.”