It was a busy week for the Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation. The federation held its inaugural National Youth Championships as well as an IMMAF course focused on youth MMA coaching. The course was held from May 18-19 by IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, followed by the Youth Championships from May 20-22.
The week itself was a step forward for TAJMMAF. The federation is ambitious in its plans for the future. The course was also a success, and each coach who passed the course was awarded a certificate. As for the National Championships, 374 participants from over 50 clubs entered the tournament, an astonishing number for their first event.
Andrew Moshanov was taken back by the approach to MMA in Tajikistan and spoke highly of his time there.
“I am amazed at the scale of development and the most systematic approach to the sport of MMA in Tajikistan. Winners in every weight division and age group earned their places on the national squad, which will represent the country at the 2022 Youth Worlds. TAJMMAF will be fully funding 25 young athletes. It is an honour and prestige for these children. I was talking to a few club coaches (there are circa 50+ clubs in the country) about this. Some of the boys were going a few times to nearby countries such as Russia, and Kazakhstan to train with their best with the only thing in mind – to participate in the national championship, to win and represent the nation internationally.”
During the trip, a meeting between the Vice-President of the Olympic Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan, Dilshod Nazarov and Andrew Moshanov took place. The pair spoke about amateur MMA being a safe sport for youths and adults and the difference between amateur and professional MMA.
Nazarov, who is an Olympic gold medalist, explained that he is ready to support TAJMMAF despite the sport not having Olympic recognition and spoke about the potential of future recognition of MMA as an Olympic sport. Nazarov also welcomed IMMAF to stage an event in Tajikistan, which has recently staged the Asian Judo Championships and Asian Football Cup.
Youth development was a large focus of the entire week and discussed in detail. The sport is getting more popular in Tajikistan, highlighted by the inaugural national championships. Tajikistan won four medals at the last set of Youth World Championships, and three of the medalists were back on the mat, competing at a national level.
They also explored the cultural and historical background of Tajikistan combat athletes. The roots come from the national wrestling style called “Gushtigiri”, which is recognised by UNESCO as a national cultural heritage.
Following the historic week for TAJMMAF, their return to the World Championships will be highly anticipated, alongside the federation’s development in the coming year.