Picture: Athletes face off at Bahrain’s National Amateur Tryouts On February 6 the Kingdom of Bahrain hosted a day of international Amateur MMA competition, welcoming teams from the United States, Ukraine, Palestine, and Kuwait, in addition to Bahrain’s own KHK MMA team. Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s First Deputy President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, and founder of KHK MMA, paved the way for international Amateur MMA in the region as part of the “#LetsPlaySports” sport day festival. The event was organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs in Isa Sports city. The championship event is another step in the implementation of Bahrain’s long term strategy which aims for the expansion of the sport among youth in Bahrain and its neighbouring Arab countries. Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad added that this is the first of a league program that will continue to play out through 2016 in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs which has focused efforts to develop and improve the sport of MMA in Bahrain. Since the Bahraini leadership has turned its attention to Mixed Martial Arts, the opportunity for youth participation has greatly increased. As well as the launch of team KHK MMA which includes leading athletes from across the globe, Bahrain was represented at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships and European Open. The nation earned its first podium position last November with 125lb contender Hussain Maki Mahdi earning a historic bronze medal at the European Open Championships. In early January Bahrain’s national amateur team travelled to Mumbai where they posted an impressive showing at the Indian Open Championship, competing against teams from India, Afghanistan, Iran, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo and Sweden. Further to sports practice, the nation’s youth has been presented with other opportunities to participate and engage with MMA : Bahraini students have successfully collaborated to produce an MMA film, and the University of Bahrain launched its very own MMA course in the February of this year.