Muaythai athlete selected for Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue 

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Muaythai under IFMA is a highly valued member of the world recognised sporting family with a strong emphasis on community. Sport has a unique power and IFMA and Muaythai has greatly established itself using the power of sport for the good of society. Important partnerships have been formed with Peace and Sport , Generations for Peace, UN Women and recently an important signing took place with UNESCO. 

“Muaythai is a world wide recognised sport, along with this recognition comes the responsibility to use the sport to promote cultural understanding, fairplay and respect”

– Sue Glassey, IFMA Vice President and Female Commission Chair

IFMA’s efforts in contributing towards society was acknowledged by the world sporting community when Muaythai and IFMA won the Spirit of Sport Award.

“IFMA’s athletes are the heart and soul of the organisation and participation in sports is not only for competition but also an opportunity towards something larger than one self”

Janice Lyn, IFMA Executive Board Member and Athletes Commission Chair

Using the athletes as ambassadors to create awareness and sharing their story has proven and will continue to inspire many.

The First Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue was held in Chengdu, China between 20-23 September; a three-day heated discussion among some 200 young leaders from the Asia-Pacific region.

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Centred around topics such as intercultural and interfaith dialogue, peace, environmental sustainability and combating extremism, young delegates from 46 countries offered their own ideas, experiences and opinions, making this a pivotal forum for the region’s youth.

“Voice of Asia Youth – Suggestions from Asian Pacific Youth Dialogue” will be submitted to the Asia Civilizations Dialogue Forum (ACDF) and the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum.

“The ideas from young people are likely to provide some food for thought for policymakers,” said Li Yanrong, president of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China where the event was held. “We should instil values in the youth first in order to build a world where different civilizations can coexist harmoniously.”

Muaythai was invited to the conference and chose Vahid Shahbazi, a successful Iranian athlete, multiple medal winner at the IFMA World Championships and gold winner at the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Championships. Vahid addressed the Congress with a touching speech, sharing his story as an athlete, the dreams, the hopes, the sacrifices made to become a champion and the 5 pillars of muaythai of respect, honour, tradition, excellence and fair play.

Vahid  Vahid spoke from personal experience when he described how vulnerable people are, particularly youth, to the potential divisions stemming from difference. “We have to learn how to interact with each other – sometimes it is not instinctive.”

He added that through Muaythai, in engaging with other athletes and travelling to different countries, he has learnt that cultural understanding, accepting the differences and respecting each other means true solidarity in sport. Muaythai has a special code of respect among athletes in drinking the same water, and wearing the same uniform. The competition starts with a thousand year old ritual that shows respect for each other, with the different corners of the ring symbolising those of the earth and regardless of the outcome of the contest, they continue to show respect by going to the opposing coach who gives them water, displaying that in Muaythai – we are one! The IFMA slogan of “One World, One Muaythai”  is about going together as one regardless of religion, language or social origin and that the language of sport unites us.

Vahid rounded it up saying.“Sport facilitates inter-cultural dialogue, it facilitates mutual understanding and respect and it facilitates peace.”

IFMA would like to thank Vahid for his commitment and UNESCO for their partnership.

IFMA will continue to promote and foster the fundamental principles of Olympism, as stated in the Olympic Charter by developing sport, cultural exchange as well as education of the youth through the power of sport. The practice of sport without discrimination of any kind is the foundation every IFMA member stands proudly.