The opening of the IFMA Kids and Juniors World Championships 2013 must be described as a cultural milestone. Over 400 kids from forty countries travelled to the beautiful city of Istanbul to take part in this proud chapter in IFMA’s history. Seeing the enthusiasm in the eyes of these children and youth made the event even more special.

Blending culture with education and sport is IFMA’s mantra. During the next five days, these assembled children and youth are role models and ambassadors for Muaythai, as the sport rests in their capable hands.

Daily activities have been planned for cultural exchange, placing the emphasis of the Championships on having fun, making friends and gaining new experiences.

The opening ceremony began with a flag parade, displaying the national flags of all participating countries, attended to by IFMA’s referees. The opening ceremony was filled with VIPs, and messages and speeches were delivered on behalf of Mr. Suat Kilic, Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Mehmet Baykan, General Manager of the Turkish Sports Directory, Mr. Halil Durna, President of the Turkish Muaythai Federation (TMF), Mr. Hasan Yildiz, Deputy-President of TMF, and Mr. Huseyin Avni Mutlu, Governor of Istanbul.

TMF President Mr. Durna made a touching speech, welcoming all the fine young athletes to Istanbul. The General Secretary of IFMA spoke about the power of sport, and how sport can make a lasting difference in a rapidly changing world.

After the speeches and confetti, came the ceremony’s cultural programme, first a troupe of young men in Turkish dress, performing a martial display with scimitar and shields. Next came a Muay Boran performance from two young female athletes, and finally a dance troupe of men and women in traditional Turkish dress danced in a classical Turkish style, colourful, lively and entertaining.

At last, the opening ceremony was over, and it was time for the competition to begin …..