It goes without saying that the five foundational pillars in the sport of Muaythai of Respect, Tradition, Honour, Excellence and FairPlay go beyond the field of play. IFMA prides itself in it’s social projects, initiatives and collaborations, with it’s main campaign Sport Is Your Gang, under patronage of Peace and Sport spanning 70 countries across all continents, not to mention active awareness and youth development programmes with UN Women and UNESCO. IFMA ensures that social initiatives stay at the heart of all our national federations in not only making it constitutional for each NF to have social involvement, but also in dedicating a number of days at every event towards special programmes for social and cultural exchange.
It was a special privilege and opportunity in special cooperation with the city of Kazan upon an initiative of the Deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for a joint project in cooperation with the Russian Muaythai Federation in the regional Tatarstan muaythai federation to visit Raifa Secondary School for deviant youth. This is one of IFMA’s important missions to connect directly to young people that have walked the wrong path, to help them find the right one.
A full day was scheduled for the IFMA family to participate with the children in various discussions and to learn more about the re-sociailising activities and sport projects that exist for the kids. The team, was warmly welcomed by Ms. Olga Ivanovna Pavlova, a member of Russian Parliament and outstanding former athlete. The team, accompanied with President of the Muaythai Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan Mr. Robert Khaliullin and his trainee – Eduard Shigin, were taken on a tour of the history of Raifa that dates back to 1933 and the objectives of the special programmes. The educational programme includes basic professional education, secondary education and supplementary education; with teachers and staff that perform medical, social and psychological rehabilitation of deviant children. Special craft and skill programmes ensure the alumni graduate with a working trade. The team also visited basketball and volleyball matches held in the framework of School Spartakiad Games.
Ms. Pavlova kicked off the special addresses with words of encouragement for the kids, after which she introduced IFMA Secretary General Stephan Fox who gave a special address to the kids, sharing his inspirational story with the kids, his personal experiences, and experiences with other children around the world within IFMA’s Sport is Your Gang social initiative. Mr Fox, talked about growing up and the challenges of finding your way back after straying off the right path, and to recognize the opportunity of a second chance. Mr Fox passed on the floor to Russian Muaythai Federation President, former world champion, Mr. Dmitry Putilin who spoke about the muaythai development in Russia and informed that Russia is a very active participant of IFMA’s international projects that provide many opportunities for young athletes.
Also on stage were members of the Russian national team that spoke to the kids, sharing that some of them also come from tough upbringing, but through muaythai and the pillar of respect they have had the chance to compete around the world, meeting other sporting enthusiasts and proudly represent Russia in international events. They also stressed that education is as important as training to ensure a proper future.
Mr Fox stated. “These important visits are done around the world. If famous fighters visit places like these, they capture the youth’s attention with immediate respect, and once you have their attention, then you can inspire them to dream, and if you dream you can do it!”
At the end the IFMA team presented the youth with gifts and who then flooded the stage for photos.