Young muaythai athletes from conflict-stricken regions join the celebrations at the muaythai Asian Championships – travelling from Afghanistan and other regions to the beautiful , bustling Macau.
Team Afghanistan under the management of President of the Afghan Muaythai Federation Mr Amir Hussaini travelled in strength to the event. Mr Hussaini has been a great driver for the growth of amateur muaythai in Afghanistan.
He says: “Afghanistan NF Muaythai gyms offer Martial Arts and civic education, referees as well as athletes adhere to ethical principles and manners.”
The federation was represented earlier this year at the World Championships in Mexico.
A large Youth team also attended the World Youth Championships in Bangkok. Read about their historic visit to the UN Headquarters in Bangkok as part of the Youth Forum, a particularly poignant moment for this team.
A key plank of his plans has been the encouragement of women to take up muaythai, and receive quality training.
Eleven athletes including three women have come to Macau ready to lay down a marker for their national flag. Freshta Sherzad said she is excited to be here in Macau, it’s her first time here and she’s really happy to represent her country – no matter who she faces in the ring. Listen to the three Afghani female athletes discuss their hopes for the tournament in this video.
Two years ago during the IFMA Youth World Championships Afghani athlete Zahra Rezaye was honoured by UN Women in a moving ceremony. Zahra, a silver medalist at world level, is well-known for her commitment to her own training and also to encouraging her peers to also compete.
“Sport can be a monumental tool in advocating for gender equality,” said Melissa Alvarado, UN Women’s Ending Violence against Women Programme Specialist. “The Olympic principles of inclusiveness and universality are a priority in Muay Thai, and though they are widely adopted across many national federations, there are still exceptional cases where the challenge is greater.”
This belief was reflected in the Afghan Federation’s celebration of Olympic Day in June this year. Mr Hossani welcomed young athletes and new students into the city’s gym, introducing them to muaythai. Girls were especially included as could be seen in the coverage in local media.