By Caoilte de Barra
Israel has become one of the standout teams at the 2022 European Championships. The team came in small numbers but impressed immensely.
This was the federation’s first-ever experience at the European Championships, CEO Ido Pariente explained.
“Because of Covid, we missed the Europeans Championships, and at the World Championships, there were only two fighters. One managed to get a bronze medal, and he’s here now. He’s already through to the semi-finals.”
The team and federation are backed by some great coaches and are contributing factors to the success of the team.
“The coaches see the value of being part of IMMAF. They see that fighters that win medals in World and continental championships in IMMAF are treated differently when they turn pro and sign contracts in different organizations. And they’re all, and when I mean all, I mean all the good coaches. The ones that make the difference in the MMA community in Israel. They’re on board. They believe in the system. They believe in IMMAF. They believe in the Israeli federation. And I’m really happy that everyone is on board. It makes it very easy for us to make this happen.”
Ibraheem Ijmail, Yevgeni Shinkarevsky and Moshe Aladi are all thriving in the competition so far, and all are guaranteed at least a bronze medal. Success in a competition such as the European Championships could have major implications for these athletes once the federation receives government recognition.
The push for recognition is paying off as Ido details how recognition is close, which means athletes get funding to allow them to train.
“So, right now we’re in the final stage of getting recognition from the state. And once we get recognition from the state, we’re gonna be funded by the government. And when you get funded by the government, two things happen. They get funded, and they get money for their activity. So it’s really easy to control championships, to conduct championships, conduct referee seminars and all of that. It’s gonna be easier.”
“These athletes are considered level A athletes according to the sports ministry. Those athletes are gonna get a salary every month. They’re gonna get conditions that are better than a lot of fighters that have already become pros. So this is huge for us.”
Israel is the real underdog story of the European Championships, and Ido is excited to see the nation on the medal table after the athletes showed just how good they are.
“We shine a little bit in some sports. This is, you know, the first time we are one of the biggest underdogs. And I think we are, and I’m really happy about that. We’re gonna be on the list of medals this time. So, I saw last year’s list of medals. There are some people that were in the top 10 with two or three medals. It’s crazy. We’re gonna be there. And we’re super, super happy.”
Watch the 2022 IMMAF European Championships live and exclusively from Bella Italia Efa Village in Lignano Sa bbiadoro (Italy) from 27 September and 1 October 2022 at immaf.tv.