This year’s Virtual Championships not only opened participation for the IFMA members, but also to members running Sport Is Your Gang programmes to engage marginalised youth in their communities through muaythai.
Not only did the Muaythai Association of the Philippines (MAP) enter an incredibly strong team to represent the nation at this year’s virtuals, but also took the opportunity to give young girls from their very own Sport Is Your Gang programme to compete and be part of the online championship.
The MAP Women’s commission started Cocoon Project in February of this year in collaboration with Fight to Protect, World Without Orphans, and First Love International Ministries. This project principally aims to use sports as a tool to empower and help sexually abused girls achieve a brand new hope and outlook in life. The project currently engages a total of 34 students, ranging from 3-17 yrs old. The kinds are taught every Saturday virtually and whenever allowed, face-to-face classes are conducted.
“We are very glad to see how the beautiful sport of Muaythai is changing these kids’ lives. Since they have started training, the kids became more active in their online school and they started to build their confidence in all aspects of their lives. Muay Thai also became sort of a therapy for them. In our face-to-face sessions, we have observed that they smile more often now and are able to express themselves better as compared to the first few sessions that we had.” Says Mardel Claro of the MAP Women’s Commission.
She further stated “We are very grateful to IFMA for giving this wonderful opportunity to the kids to experience their first-ever competition. The thought of them competing gave them something to look forward to – they are very excited about the event. It was a bit of a challenge to make a video record of the kids for the requirements of the competition because most of them were victims of online sexual abuse and so it causes them distress to face the camera but that did not stop them from doing their best. The Lord is good. After all the breakdowns, they still came through which was really a joy to see for us coaches. For us at Cocoon Project, all of these kids are winners already just by stepping up and participating, regardless of what would be the result of the competition.”