By James Eakin
In his ongoing quest to gain government recognition for amateur MMA, Richie Cranny, President of the IMMAFA, has expanded his Youth Development Program, which is set to roll out in January 2022.
The program, which was initially planned only for Australia, has now broadened its reach, and become the Oceania Youth Development Programme, after the IMMAFA joined forces with the New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts Federation. This expansion came after a call with IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov and discussions with IMMAF CEO Densign White, and from January the programme will be rolled out to multiple gyms across the region, with aspirations of involving as many as 50 gyms by the summer of 2022. Cranny has described this scheme as:
“A bridge to convert gyms that wouldn’t normally come over to MMA”.
The initial success and hype around the programme will lead to an exponential increase in the projected membership figures of IMMAFA. Speaking about these projections, Cranny said:
“We’re basically going to double our membership in the first four weeks.”
There are also aspirations to include the charity Mission Australia in the venture, to ensure that children can get the exact course content they desire, to promote the project’s chances to get government recognition.
President of the NZMMAF, Terry Hill, expressed his delight at the expansion of the program, saying:
“This is huge, and for IMMAF it is huge as well. I think I’ve got a pot of gold here.”
One major development for the programme is the fact that NZMMAF is already recognised by the New Zealand government as a National Sports Organisation, something that has yet to be achieved in Australia by IMMAFA. NZMMAF have already been running schemes in schools that have been incredibly successful. President Terry Hill and Vice-President Matt Toa have been leading the way in giving young, vulnerable kids a platform to cope with pressures at school and in life. Their input will be the perfect addition to this already impressive programme.
Furthermore, Cranny has enlisted the help of former two-time Taekwondo Olympian, Adam Meyers as a coach on their international squad. The significance of Meyers’ appointment cannot be understated, as it demonstrates a clear transition of athletes moving away from a single martial arts’ discipline, into MMA.
Speaking on his involvement with IMMAFA and the benefits of the new program, Meyers said:
“It was really appealing because other pathways in MMA just don’t exist to be frank. For the kids it’s really important to base their goals around an IMMAF style qualification system.”
Alongside The Oceania Youth Development Program, Cranny has introduced a new 12-month coaching internship for those looking to gain the credentials to become a national coach. This helps to ensure the proper education of coaches at amateur level and in turn ensure the safety of athletes in competition.
The Oceania Youth Development Programme is a massive step towards the sports’ recognition at amateur level, and the detail and attention in the course material ensures the safest and well-guided pathway for young athletes and coaches alike!