By Jorden Curran
In 2019 Ukraine’s youth MMA talents were among the biggest achievers at the inaugural IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships. The Ukraine national team, consisting of young prospects from the ages of 12 to 17, placed second in the overall medal table with 7 gold medals, 6 silver and 3 bronze for a total 16 podium positions.
Hosted in Rome, Italy, the first ever Youth MMA World Championships were the first event of its kind on a major international scale. The IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships return in 2021, set to take place from 30 July – 1 August in Istanbul, Turkey. The Championships cover three age/rule categories: Youth C (age 12-13), Youth B (14-15) and Youth A (16-17), each housing multiple weight categories and with head strikes prohibited for athletes under the age of 18.
Anton Blank – Executive Director of the Ukraine MMA Federation – reflected on the high preparedness of Team Ukraine contributing to the nation’s achievements in 2019 – Read more HERE. Now, ahead of the of event’s 2021 return the Ukraine MMA Federation, backed by the nation’s government, aims to go one better and lead the entire pack with success underpinned by a strong national sport culture and flourishing MMA scene that continues to engage young people and provide enjoyment with avenues to opportunity and personal development, and crucially with the sport for accessible for youth from all socio-economic backgrounds.
“The Youth MMA movement is rather big in our country,” Blank explains, “A lot of small towns have gyms where children can learn MMA and when they become older, they move to a bigger city to study at the Universities. MMA helps them not only to become stronger and healthier, but also to make new friends all over the country and to travel and to see other cities and countries, so MMA helps them to grow in all directions. In small towns they don’t have a lot of options, so these are some of the reasons the youth team in Ukraine is so strong. The plans for this year are to bring as full team as it could be, and the Ukrainian national youth team will be fighting for the leadership in this age category.”
The national youth championships of Ukraine are slated to take place from May 21 – 23 with several hundred participants ready to compete for national honours and a place within Team Ukraine, bound for the IMMAF Youth World Championships. Team registration remains open to IMMAF’s worldwide member federations – click HERE for more information.