By Andrew Moshanov
With two more Youth IMMAF Coach certification courses in the books, both staged in South Africa. Let’s focus on youth development and how the emphasis on hosting youth events on a national level can aid the recognition of MMA as a legitimate amateur sport.
The statement, “youth is the future”, is an opening line used in the launch of most sustainable long-term projects. When it comes to the development of sports, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of starting correctly.
Laying the perfect foundation, building so-called “movement literacy”, and gaining positive experiences of physical interaction with peers are all required. Therefore, we continue to push for youth development and offer national federations opportunities to upskill their coaching task force.
There is still a struggle in Mixed Martial Arts being recognised as a legitimate sport for various biases. The truth is that it is hard to beat the bias through exclusively adult and professional events. Professional shows are only the tip of the iceberg. Both national and international sports authorities need to see the benefits, youth appeal and educational values of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport.
At IMMAF, we stage Youth World Championships and have launched a youth program that delivers new content on the App regularly. We continue to think of creating more visual aids to help coaches plan the training sessions for youth.
By educating, upskilling and certifying coaches worldwide, we have the ultimate aim to ensure coaches deliver IMMAF’s vision and long-term goals and present a new ethos of this sport. Combined, this would change the perception of Mixed Martial Arts and highlight true athleticism, sportsmanship, and technical depth. We are on track, however, there is much more work to do.
Having international youth events is vital, but good quality national youth events shall pave the road to recognition of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport sooner than professional shows or senior amateur championships.
Therefore, let’s set ourselves a new target for the coming year – one IMMAF national federation – one youth event.
It is a big challenge, and on top of the certified youth coaches, each country will need a task force of trained officials, timekeepers, chaperones, judges, referees, events logistics and managers. A lot of work goes into getting them all to function in sync, but the results will be rewarding. So let’s build the future of this sport together.