With the sun shining brightly over beautiful Antalya, Turkey, between the 28th – 6th of October, the IFMA family along with over 600 youths from 75 countries shared their stage with us for the IFMA 2019 World Youth Muaythai Championships.
United Through Sports was thrilled to assist in coordinating the social elements of the championships with activities for the young athletes including; Rise and Grind, the Eco-Awarness Beach Cleanup and the first edition of IFMA Stars On The Rise Talent Show, which saw many young athletes share their gifts beyond the ring. Our Youth Conference took a more interactive approach this year with a discussion of important topics such as anti-doping, mental health and athletic values.
Rise and Grind was implemented to encourage athletes to be more aware of their roles and responsabilities beyond being athletes. Our vision was to physically engage the youth to take active care of their environment. This incentive saw over 250 athletes come together along with their coaches for a beach cleanup which proved the perfect combination of fun with friends and food for thought.
This event was also about demonstrating inclusivity and giving opportunity to youths who are less fortunate. IFMA invited a group of youths from an orphanage in Antalya to join the event and gave the young teens a chance to experience muaythai for the first time, not only in a warm and welcoming environment, but also amongst many young, inspiring champions. The group happily recieved gifts, shared their stories and were able to feel a part of the action under the guidance of Muaythai champion Janice Lyn.
UTS CEO Julia Govinden took to the stage and moderated the talent show together with talented Turk, Ogun. Performers from age 10-17 set the stage alight showing that Muaythai is not their only passion. Every single performance was diverse and an amazing display of talent. From street dancing, to a performance from the Disney cartoon Frozen by the boys from team Great Britian led by Furgus Smith, who took the energy in the ampthitheatre to another level with an outstanding performance.
The judges, IFMA Director Ms Charissa Tynan, IFMA Secretary General Stephan Fox, IFMA President Dr Sakchye and Turkish Federation‘s Secretary General Mr Hassan could not pick a single winner and it was decided everyone who performed received gifts of excellence. By the end of the event, the show had taken on a life of its own with the audience joining the performers to dance on stage as one family.
Over 600 athletes from all around the world participated in the IFMA Youth Conference where IFMA, UTS and ITA shared their knowledge and wisdom with the the young athletes. UTS focused on the sport psychology of competition mentality, where the topic focused on the psychology of not winning.
Julia Govinden shared the slogan ‘We don’t ever lose, we either win or we learn‘, as she shared tools with the youth on how to cope with the mental challenges of competition. Special guest was Olya Albaso from the International Testing Agency who flew over and gave a fantastic and engaging speech focusing on anti-doping and the responsibilities of the athletes and her approach saw the audience alert, interested and entertained.
The Conference ended with final words from Stephan Fox who shared some of his own journey as a former World Champion. His speech encouraged the athletes not to give up on their dreams and how important values are not just in sports but in life. Before leaving, many youths wrote their hopes and wishes onto the tree of hope which has become a custom at our youth events.
UTS also delivered a presentation at the IFMA Entourage Conference addressing the parents and coaches of the athletes. The focus was on the importance of mental health and how a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body.
The visions and missons of UTS towards the championships were surpassed and the success of the event demonstrated that a sporting event is not just about winning but about also giving other opportunities for children to shine incorporating education, awareness and freedom to express oneself. It is also a place to build resilience and the values of bouncing back as an athlete despite not winning, strengthening mental health. IFMA ensured that their athletes left Antalya with confidence to keep pursuing their dreams, fond memories and a smile.