Long-time friend of Fight for Peace and former volunteer, Tom Biggart recently returned to our London Academy in North Woolwich to catch up with the team and see some of the work being delivered on the ground.

In this blog, Tom shares his reaction to seeing our junior sports sessions in action which have recently brought muay thai and mixed martial arts to 7-14 year olds at Fight for Peace, a new addition to our junior sessions which previously only included boxing for 10-14 year olds.

“It was in Rio in 2017, many years and many miles away that I last lifted a pen in the name of Luta Pela Paz – Fight for Peace’s sister organisation in Rio de Janeiro.

After such a lengthy hiatus from writing anything for a cause close to my heart, what I saw when I walked into the North Woolwich Academy last week reminded me why I love Fight for Peace so much.  

Fight for Peace’s junior sessions recently launched across all sports including muay thai, boxing and mixed martial arts, and are designed to encourage early integration to sports for 7-14 year olds. 

During my visit, I happened to stumble into a junior muay thai session led by Head Muay Thai coach, Star. I stuck around to see how the session was run and straight away recognised the joy in the faces of the participants as they put Coach Star through her paces.

I was intrigued by what I saw, and wanted to find out more about the sessions and why they are so important in Fight for Peace’s mission in supporting young people, so I caught up with Fight for Peace’s Sports Development Manager, Silvino Domingos.

‘We want our younger age groups to learn the basic technique and fundamental skills that they can gain from each of the sports we offer, but we also have to ensure that they are having fun in the process – fun is a key part of their engagement,’ Silvino explained.

‘We also know that boxing and martial arts have the power to instil values in young people, and making interventions from an even younger age can help young people hugely in their journeys to discovering who they are, building the confidence and qualities needed to thrive in their lives.’

Silvino explained that some young people can be discouraged and feel the urge to give up when sessions become challenging, but it’s the role of Fight for Peace and its coaches and youth workers to help them overcome this.

‘The differences we see in young people from when they begin the programme, to where they progress to in a little as a week is huge. More often than not, the younger ones will shuffle into the gym with their heads down, looking shy and not knowing how to approach staff members,’ said Silvino.

‘A week on, and these same young people can be shining brightly and talking to everyone, which is a testament to the young champions who attend our sessions, our coaches and youth workers.’

It was clear from my visit and chat with Silvino that these young athletes are in safe hands at Fight for Peace, and I would encourage any parents to bring their children down to see it for themselves!

Our junior muay thai and mixed martial arts sessions and are open to 7-14 year olds, while our junior boxing sessions are open to 10-14 year olds. For more information, please email or come and visit our Academy to speak to a member of staff.

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