IFMA and UAE working together to provide referee training in the Arab region

Referee training seminar in UAE with eight federations and IFMA muaythai referees

Referee training seminar in UAE with eight federations and IFMA muaythai referees

A key workshop for the development of muaythai in the Arab region took place when referees from eight countries attended training with senior IFMA referees in Abu Dhabi. Referees are the third person in the ring and their understanding of fair play, clean sport and the rules of muaythai are crucial to a successful event.

The UAE Muaythai Federation under the presidency of H.E. Abdullah Saeed Amer Al Neyadi welcomed participants from seven other countries to the beautiful city of Abu Dhabi for the three-day course.

The course was led by Gunter Plank (Austria) and Abby Nelson (Australia), both experienced referees at top-level IFMA events including world championship finals. They worked in partnership with Omar   Almarzooqi, head referee for the UAE federation. The 72 participants included nine women training to work in the ring; the encouragement of female referees is a central aim for the IFMA Technical Committee.

The eight federations were hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) under the presidency of
Abdulla Alniyadi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Iraq.

Mr Plank said: “This is the second time IFMA has hosted a referee seminar in the UAE, and the first time we have a female presenter also. That’s a great development, and we were also pleased with the great number of participants.”

“Participants overall interaction was of a highly positive nature. Many asked numerous questions and co-operation was very active. Through education we believe that this will further our sport of Muaythai to the highest level and by working together this is very achievable, as Muaythai is for everybody.”

Ms Nelson said she was very proud to be the first female trainer at UAE, and really impressed with the enthusiasm and interest shown by the women she worked with.

She said: “We received great support from Omar Almarzooqi with his preparation of the event and extensive translating skills. Participants were also able to achieve some practical education. We had students practicing movement in the ring including Hand Signals for fouls and basic commands of Yoot, Chok and Yaek.”

The IFMA Female Commission led by Ms Sue Glassey has long supported the need for increasing the number of women referees. The role is another pathway into enjoying and benefiting from the sport of Muaythai.

As well as undertaking practical tests, all participants watched video footage of Muaythai bouts which they had to score and answer written questions upon. They focused on key skills including scoring, caution warnings, referee signals and gestures, movement of the referee, and practice inside the ring.


Both IFMA referees praised the help and support given to them by the UAE Muaythai Federation, and said this kind of cooperation is crucial for moving forward with development of amateur Muaythai.

Mr Plank said: “Participants overall interaction was of a highly positive nature. Many asked numerous questions and co-operation was very active. Through education we believe that this will further our sport of Muaythai to the highest level and by working together this is very achievable, as Muaythai is for everybody.”

Read more about Muaythai in UAE here.

Training as an IFMA referee is open to everyone, read more here.

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