Sue Glassey, IFMA Vice President and former world champion shared how the world of sport has changed for women in recent years and what has been achieved by IFMA’s Female Commission of which she is Chairperson.
Thailand is only 50 days out from the opening of the 2015 IFMA Royal World Cup. With around 100 teams participating this will be the largest of any IFMA world event to date. The substantial increase in entrants can be accounted for by an increase in the total number of countries attending and the considerable growth of both female and junior competitors. This significant rise in female and junior involvement at national and international levels indicate Muaythai’s enormous gain in popularity worldwide.
Ms. Glassey stated: “A true honour has been bestowed upon all female participants, Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand has donated a special trophy acknowledging all female participants.”
Sue continued to explain that during the last 7 years the Female Commission has been working diligently to increase the participation of female athletes across the world. Much of this work has been done to help create equality amongst the sport’s competitors; this has been especially significant for our female athletes in Islamic countries. By leveling the playing field and adapting some of the rules the Female Commission has been able to ensure that discrimination will not prevent women from competing at IFMA events. This has resulted in many Islamic females feeling able to compete and an increase in Islamic countries sending female teams to IFMA international events. The Female Commission has made huge gains in a number of areas including: improved female safety equipment; the educating of trainers and female athletes regarding female sports physiology and anatomy and their links to sport psychology; the substantial growth in social and professional networking and media, increased representation and support at national and international levels, and a growing proactive team of individuals with the drive and determination to see female Muaythai athletes recognised as athletes who are not defined by their skills and ability not judged on their gender.
Sue said that when she competed at IFMA events in the late ‘90s there were maybe a maximum of 15 countries sending female teams. Female Muaythai has become progressively more popular and is now, in many countries, more popular amongst the women than their male counterparts.
Muaythai is one of the rare sports that typically perceived by the public as a ‘male sport’ supports and promotes the inclusion of females within their organisational structure. Muaythai nurtures athlete pathways in both their males and females athletes. Being female is not a disability when it comes to being in an integral role in the growth of the sport of Muaythai. Sue says that she is happy that even after she finished her athlete’s career she was encouraged to work to develop Muaythai and help provide equal opportunities for all athletes to compete in IFMA events. The fact that approximately 30% of all IFMA Executive Board members are female and a growing number of countries such as New Zealand, USA, Portugal, Sweden, and Kyrgistan have female presidents further highlights this inclusive involvement.
Sue stated that going forward what excites her most is the opportunity to work with both IFMA and the UN Women employing the international growth in the sport of Muaythai as a vehicle to help increase and promote the empowerment of women across the world. Using Muaythai’s values and cultural beauty to cultivate an understanding of equality we can help develop a world wide understanding that recognises that just as female athletes should not be defined by their gender similarly gender should not define the worth of a human being.