The IMMAF Youth grading pathway got a welcome boost in New Zealand on 2 February with 23 youngsters getting expert tuition from a team of MMA stalwarts led by NZMMAF Vice President Matt Toa.
The fledging system aims to encourage children, and their parents, to appreciate the excitement and fun of MMA in an environment where safety and security are a top priority.
Matt Toa, who is Head Coach and Gym Owner of the Otago Fight Centre in Dunedin, South Island New Zealand, was delighted with the response not only of the participating young athletes but their parents as well, who are crucial to the development of youth sport systems.
“We had previously been grading the youth at the Otago Fight Centre under our own Hammerhead MMA system until last year when we changed over to the IMMAF grading system,” said Matt.
“We had to tweak and make adjustments to our old system to ensure we covered all the elements in the new syllabus and I am very pleased how it has taken shape.
“It’s great to be able to offer a grading system at our gym that is internationally recognised and it gives our students a solid pathway for the future, whether they intend to compete later or remain as recreational participants, it’s good for them to know their skill-sets.”
On this session Matt and his team awarded the following grades:
Yellow Orange 3
White Yellow 6
IMMAF Development Director Andrew Moshanov said: “It’s great to see the example being set by Matt and his team in New Zealand. Getting young people and their families to understand that MMA is both a fun sport and an excellent learning experience is a huge strategic goal for IMMAF. We want as many youngsters to take part in MMA, even at recreational level, and for the most committed of them to compete at international level, and we hope, one day be able to compete even at the Olympics.”
NZ is also known as the “factory of champions” with a steady stream of athletes turning professional. The New Zealand based fight team Hammerhead MMA has produced IMMAF world championship medallists Sarah Archer 2 x bronze strawweight 2015/16, Jess Bradley bronze flyweight 2015 and Hannah Dawson 2 x Silver strawweight 2017/19.
Andrew continues: “NZ has a mighty taskforce of 25 IMMAF certified coaches. I am delighted to see how well NZ coaches are levelling the development of all groups of athletes and paying equal attention to the grass roots, youth, recreational and competitive side of the sport.
For more information about the IMMAF Youth Development programmes please contact the IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov – [email protected]