Social projects are a natural fit for the muaythai community; the spirit of respect and solidarity in the sport means helping those less fortunate and uniting to bring change is a natural fit. Four months since the launch of the United Through Sports campaign, under patronage of the IOC, the partnership between SportAbility and IFMA with support from the wider sports family is showing results.
Launched during SportAccord 2018 in Bangkok, the IOC President Thomas Bach said that the project reflects the Olympic spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
Speaking during the SportAccord Convention 2018 in Bangkok, he said sport can only be a force for good.
Other speakers at the launch included GAISF President Patrick Baumann, President of ASOIF Francesco Ricci Bitti and President of WADA Sir Craig Reedie. The event was opened by the Minister of Tourism and Sport His Excellency Weerasak Kowsurat.
CEO of SportAbility Julia Govinden, who is the driving force behind the campaign said: “This festival is about using the platform that sport has, to highlight the issues in society and raise money to combat those issues. It is important that we work together using all opportunities and resources, so that we can make a real difference to displaced families all over the world.”
She said the next step is donation of sports equipment and educational tools to children in disadvantaged areas, adding that every child should have access to sports.
Currently, donations are still being made and preparations are underway including the collection of the sporting equipment and talks with Right To Play, who are assisting with the distribution and coordination of the donations. The next step for United Through Sports with this project is to take the goods to three camps in the Tak Province (Mae la, Umpiem and Nu Po) and distribute to the children.
IFMA’s own social project is Sport Is Your Gang. This is run by federations from Argentina to Switzerland and focused on training children in disadvantaged areas to develop confidence and dignity through muaythai.
Giovanna Mondragon , Executive Director of Sport Is Your Gang Mexico runs the largest project with 3,000 children. Ms Mondragon called on muaythai athletes and athletes from other sports to bring their skills to poor areas.
Three stars of the sports world exemplified the message of United Through Sports. Pascal Gentil – Olympic medal holder in Taekwondo and a Champion for Peace and Ambassador of Peace and Sport. Bismark Biyombo – Orlando Magic NBA player – and French football legend Christian Karembeu who all joined in the activities at the United Through Sports Festival, interacting and engaging with the children and most certainly leaving their mark on the young athletes’ memories.
Nadin Diwani from the IOC athlete’s commission represented the wider sports community, also saying that athletes should give back and not waste their position as role models.
History was made as it was the first time SportAccord hosted a United Through Sports festival.