THE 2024 International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Africa Championships, which will be hosted in Namibia this year was officially launched in the capital, Windhoek yesterday.
The president of the IMMAF Kerrith Brown from the United Kingdom and the CEO of the MMA Namibia Federation, Carlos de Sousa addressed the media at a press conference at De Sousa’s fully-equipped MMA hall and gymnasium in central Windhoek where the championships will be held from 25 May to 1 June.
De Sousa said his passion for the sport had led to Namibia winning the bid to host the championships.
“We went to the MMA Africa Games for the first time in Johannesburg in 2022, when I met Kerrith and Raymond Phillips of the IMMAF, so obviously we started to talk. They liked my passion for the sport and when we met up again at the African Champs in Angola last year, I approached Kerrit and asked him if we can host it in Namibia. He said he would look into it, and then one thing led to another until they eventually agreed. They said its game on, this is what we need from you, can you reach these criteria to host the championships, so obviously I said yes, Namibia can do it,” he said.
Brown said Namibia had met the requirements to host the event.
“There is a process – the national federations will approach us so we will come out and have a look at their facilities. Raymond was already here a few weeks ago, so the process is making sure that the federations can meet those criteria relating to the venue, the hospitality, hotels and accommodation, transportation and security amongst others,” he said.
“We’ve had a conversation with Carlos, we’ve gone through a checklist, we look at internet provision and TV coverage, because some of it might go out live, and we have a wide viewership market. We are sponsored by UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), so we potentially have up to a billion people who can have access to the content,” he added.
Brown said the facilities were up to standard.
“The facilities are good, but one also has to look at the costs and the issues around funding. The fact is that we are not a recognised sport code, so it makes it difficult for the national federations to knock on the door of sport ministers or national olympic committees, so we’ve got to get them engaged so that they can understand what the sport is about and about its perception,” he said.
“A lot of people just focus on the professional side and not the amateur side, so my job is to change that and make them understand the process and how safe the sport is in terms of its regulations and what we do to make sure that the athletes are safe and there is medical data that supports that,” he added. “We have continental competitions for Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania and this will be the sixth edition of the African Championships. It obviously helps to develop the sport on the continent, while it also forms part of the pathway to our 10th world championships which will be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan later this year,” he said.
De Sousa said he was hoping to stage a big event.
“In 2022 Veja Hinda became the African champion, and last year in Angola we got another African champion by the name of Damian Muller, while we also got a silver and a bronze medal. This year I will try and enter as big a team as possible, of between 13 to 15 athletes, because it’s the home town and the costs to compete won’t be that much,” he said.
“We hope to attract about 20 nations in total, but its still too early to say. Some of our neighbouring SADC countries like South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mauritius have already confirmed that they will come, but of the others we will only know closer to the time,” he said.
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