This morning over 400 delegates from the world of sport gathered to hear about the next stages in IFMA’s progress towards Olympic recognition. Including today there are three more days of fights, but members carved out the time to continue their focus on social responsibility, and the future of their sport.
The IOC’s head of Sport Partnerships and Coordination Jennifer Mann addressed the meeting, looking at how involving more women in sport is a mutually beneficial progress.
She said: “The aim is to have 50% of female participation in the Olympic Games. I can recognise that IFMA is a family, I have seen that here today.” The former triathlete used a slide showing that in the Paris Olympics of 1900 there was just 2% participation but at London2012 a staggering 44% of the athletes were female.
Ms Mann said when she herself became interested in sports leadership, that she was supported by the men around her, and she called on the men already involved in IFMA to continue their great work in bringing girls and women into MuayThai.
Warming to her theme she showed a filmed message from United Nations under-secretary general Dr Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka with an inspiring message about the transformative power of sport.
In a touching moment she handed her IOC pin to the 11 year old New Zealand girl who earlier spoke to a packed room about the up-coming Youth Tournament in Bangkok. Ms Mann said Pheline Rosin reminded her of her own youthful enthusiasm for sport.
IFMA president Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan honoured Ms Mann’s important contribution to the world of sport with a small token. He also presented the young New Zealander with a medal, dropping to his knees to a roar of approval. No doubt the first of many for this future champion.
The conference was opened by Swedish professor Erwin Apitzsch who described a collaborative universities project which showed improving fitness could save the State €336,800 per person over a lifetime. This was based on improved strength and health as well as unintended side-effects like quitting smoking.
AIMS president and IFMA general secretary Stefan Fox reminded everyone how far IFMA has come; looking back to 1995 when federations were not recognised and the Olympics were just a distant dream. Praising the hard work put in over the past twenty years by each country, he mentioned the awards night last year which recognised the sacrifice and effort from each person.
He called on them to continue their work, and be sure that the federations will continue on the path towards Olympic recognition. This will include working with the grassroots of Muaythai, and encouraging proud participation in the IOC multi-sport international games held around the world.
Sports Director Charissa Tynan and members of the IFMA office presented on the international sports games of which IFMA is a part. So far these include the FISU World University Games, TAFISA, Asia Beach Games, World Combat Games, demonstration sport at the Asian Games, Arafura Games, Asia Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
This tournament going on in Sweden this week is also a qualifer for the World Combat Games. A further round of qualifications take place in November in the sports-mad city of Kazan in Russia. A video from the city showed how well-prepared they already are for this tournament.
Another video raised smiles all round when the Mexican delegation revealed their bid to host the 2018 Muaythai World Championships.
And of course moving scenes were shown from a selection of the many social programmes Muaythai federations run around the world. One of the most successful of these is the “Sport is your Gang” programme targetting children from deprived areas and offering them a path away from crime and poverty.