The third part of the IFMA Members Workshop focused on IFMA’s “Sport Is Your Gang” project. The presentation opened with a video of Muaythai social projects, followed by clips of some of Muaythai’s champions speaking about their life experiences with Muaythai and showing their support for “Sport Is Your Gang.”

IFMA was happy to introduce special guest speaker Pernilla Johansson. A big thank you must go to the Swedish Muaythai Federation for helping to make her trip possible. The Frysbox project embodies the spirit of Sport Is Your Gang, making it a pleasure for IFMA to be able to highlight this project.

Pernilla helped to found the Frysbox project in 2007, in cooperation with the organisation Fryshuset in Stockholm. Having formerly worked as a police officer, she realised that many youth hanging out in plazas and on the streets were simply bored, with no constructive outlet for their energies. There was only so much law enforcement could do to deal with youth crime prevention. Training Muaythai, Pernilla became an IFMA World Champion in 2006, and not long after, also a WMC Champion. With her passion for Muaythai, the idea for Frysbox began as a Muaythai training and dialogue project for young women who had been victims of crime, to learn self-defense and to build their self-respect and self-confidence. The project was successful and soon expanded to include Muaythai training for young men too. The target age group is now 13-20 years old.

Pernilla explained many practical aspects of running the project, not only the importance of the training, but in having the expertise and resources to deal with the psychological aspect. The importance of dialogue with the training and having the necessary skill to be able to lead dialogue , is what builds trust and understanding of deeper issues between the youth, as well as letting them express themselves and so find their own voice. She showed a video from the project, which really brought home the day-to-day reality of running it.

Following her presentation, IFMA Social Projects Coordinator Samara Yawnghwe gave a presentation titled: “Building a SIYG Project in Your Home Country.” Referencing Pernilla’s presentation, Samara outlined the initial steps National Federations must take to start their own projects at home.

Federations must think about their target group, about what laws they must be aware of, what local community people or organisations they can work or partner with, how to plan for funding, and the psychology of understanding the youth they are reaching.

Samara emphasized the importance of planning for the long term. Starting small and having a solid base in a local community, will help to sustain and grow the project. She closed the presentation by highlighting the fact that the best resource the National Federations have is their own Muaythai champions, people who are passionate about the sport, who believe in the values of Muaythai and who will be committed to the project.

The Kids and Junior World Championships was a powerful platform through which to deliver this workshop, and it will be exciting to see how the National Federations implement and build their own projects in the months and years to come.

Some coverage in Swedish from the Frysbox site: