By James Eakin
In a bid to ensure athlete wellbeing and Olympic potential, Richie Cranny, President of IMMAFA has devised a unique Youth Development Program. This gives young kids the chance to be part of a national team whilst learning about the fundamentals of Mixed Martial Arts and the importance of mental health and body mechanics. The new 10-year accredited framework aims to build the mental fortitude and knowledge needed for professional athletes and coaches to succeed, working alongside counsellors and industry experts to build a cohesive unit of young athletes.
At the forefront of the IMMAFA’s new program is health and education. To pass through the next stage of grading, athletes will have to complete tests in nutrition, body mechanics and mental health, ensuring their longevity and giving them the self-belief required in a world enveloped in mental illness and tragic suicide rates. A new E-learning platform will give young athletes and their parents a forum to talk via an app to their coaches as well as experienced counsellors, who will be trained to recognise learning difficulties so that they are always able to help their pupils.
The program, which is due to be rolled out to 10 gyms in January, will also feature an in-depth strength and conditioning program. This will allow athletes from a young age to develop the strength in their bodies before building into more advanced weight training environments.
The early stages of the program will focus on motor skills and coordination, giving students the perfect platform to learn the technical aspects of movement required in MMA. The program also seeks to remove the violent aesthetic of cage fighting in its early stages by starting students on mat-based competition only. By breaking MMA down into two sections of grappling and striking, the program guarantees safe development of its youngest athletes.
The inclusion of Danny Corr as an Advisory Board Member is a fantastic addition to the program. Corr was awarded the British Empire Medal this year thanks to his youth work with his Peace Through MMA and Fight to Unite groups, which helped youngsters involved with crime start in MMA to mitigate violence in the younger generations. This shows the IMMAFA’s commitment to ensuring that young athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds have an equal chance in taking part in something great. Furthermore, Cranny intends to form a Scholarship program to help families who cannot afford coaching fees.
In the words of IMMAF President Kerrith Brown:
“MMA is a universal language recognised by youth worldwide, with the power to break boundaries and to unite”.
Cranny and the IMMAFA aim to champion this message through their Youth Development program.
With the Olympics coming to Australia in 2032, this new 10-year program is the perfect springboard to government recognition for the sport, and instills the values of self-discipline and respect in all its members. Encouraging their athletes to chase their dreams and not settle for less, the IMMAFA’s new program is a step in the right direction for young athlete development, prioritising the safety and mental wellbeing of its members.