The Belgian MMA Federation (BMMAF) are continuing their quest to have mixed martial arts a fully recognised sport across the country, in order to eventually operate the federation under one banner.
The way in which the country operates, all government related bodies, including sporting federations, have to have wholly respective bodies set up in both the southern province of Wallonia and the northern province of Flanders. The Belgian MMA Federation originated and is currently based out of Wallonia, and fulfills a national presence by collaborating in Flanders with the government affiliated Flemish kickboxing body, VBKBMO. The successful partnership has ensured that MMA athletes in Flanders can get licensing under the Belgian MMA Federation and fulfil their individual right to compete.
The geographical politics of Belgium are a relatively unique situation within Europe. The divide is at the heart of many matters of national progress, from sport governance to the highest level of politics all catering to the long-standing split. While it is certainly not uncomplicated, it is nevertheless par for the course for sport development within the country and the BMMAF are en-course to successfully navigate the cultural hurdles. As Belgian President Ludo Boulvin explains, the next step for the Federation is to create respective bodies within the two regions, operating under the national banner of the BMMAF. He said:
“With the progress made by IMMAF at the global level, we know that full recognition is only a matter of time for MMA in Belgium.The collaboration with VBKBMO and the addition of new members within the board has allowed us to extend our activities across the country and make us really confident for the future of the sport.
“With BMMAF as the national body, VBMMAF (Vlaamse BMMAF) is soon going to be created in the Flemish region and LFBMMAF (Ligue Francophone BMMAF) will be created in Wallonia, all in the upcoming months. The creation of these entities will reflect legal requirements for the government’s recognition of the sport.”
BMMAF are also striving to make the sport as all encompassing as they can. Throughout 2021, they are organising 100% girls’ initiation or training sessions to demonstrate the accessibility and benefits of MMA. Alongside the women’s initiative, BMMAF are also looking to introduce more children to the sport, running events for children 8 years and older to discover MMA as not only a sport but a fun activity.
Currently, participation within the two provinces is vastly different, with almost 70% of members residing in Flanders. Another main aim for the next 12 months is to increase the number of affiliated members.
It’s uplifting to witness Federations such as in Belgium being proactive in their pursuit to gain Mixed Martial Arts recognition from their government , as IMMAF continues to strive to offer a platform upon which amateur MMA can continue to grow, globally.