Many coaches I’ve interviewed refer to a Golden Age of Irish MMA. This Golden Age is always referred to in the past tense. It seems to have been a period roughly between 5 and 10 years ago.
Now funnily enough I happen to think that this present period might actually be the Golden Age of writing about MMA in Ireland. So much turbulence. So much politicking.
John Kavanagh was on the Late, Late show in Ireland last Friday. Now most people would have been tuning in to find out if he had any new tit-bits on Conor McGregor. However my ear was drawn to something else John said.
” I am the President of IMMAA the amateur mixed martial arts association. About a year ago we started a process to becoming an NGB, National Governing body for mixed martial arts…….Now I have to say I had no idea what the work-load was going to be. I thought you’d just write a letter to Sports Ireland, I trained the world champion…can we get the status “
John went on to explain, in his pleasant way, the nitty gritty of applying and ultimately gaining recognition as a National Governing body. Good corporate governance practices in other words. Child protection policies, Garda vetting, Health & Safety and dozens of other considerations no doubt. He candidly admits that he had no experience in this type of application process and that it has been a steep learning curve.
Now before I go onto say anything else, I want to make one thing crystal clear, I think he is the face required to get MMA over the line as a recognised governing body and then acceptance by the Irish Sports Council, which in turn will bring government funding amongst other things.
Now there is a vastly differing sway of opinion on whether MMA should actually be looking to go down this road. But let’s park that argument for a different day and for arguments sake say it is the right course of action.
For the moment all we can say for certain is there is a considerable weight behind the NGB movement from the SBG family and various other teams and clubs that make up IMMAA.
John Kavanagh knows full well that there is a sizeable minority of clubs that don’t feel included or part of anything to do with IMMAA. For goodness sake a significant number of these clubs have gone to the trouble of setting up a second association.
Rather than continually extending an olive branch to Joe Brolly by inviting him out to SBG for coffee, I think he would be better advised extending that olive branch to some members of IAMMAA and sitting down with people who can actually help him move the agenda of amateur MMA forward.
I am not placing the blame for this split at his doorstep merely stating it as a known fact there is a division in Irish MMA. A division not being addressed. Attempt to heal the wounds that exist, if the attempt fails at least you can say you tried. In fairness I do believe him when he says that a huge amount of his time, effort and no doubt money has been put into the application process.
For me the major benefit to MMA in Ireland of NGB status and the Sports Council umbrella is funding. I would expect the funding to be relatively small to begin with, but in an amateur sport that is starved of money and to be frank quite expensive to pursue even as an amateur – It would be welcome.
In all conversations I have had to date, brains scans and re-scans etc have been mentioned as the San Andreas fault line between the two camps. Particularly the cost element. Start a conversation there and see where it leads.
If the sport is actually granted NGB status, what if, in the initial period of acceptance all Sports Council Funding went into paying for that one-off brain scan. Even an initial funding level of 150,000 would pay for a 1,000 scans a year!. Any surplus ( and I am sure there would be plenty) leftover could go towards other things. A problem solved. A point of disharmony potentially addressed.
After watching the programme last Friday, I began to wonder if the application for recognition had already been submitted so I emailed Sports Ireland. The response was short and to the point.
” I was passed on your email in relation to MMA. While Sport Ireland has engaged with the mixed martial arts community over the last number of years, no formal request for recognition has been submitted by any of the organisations we have engaged with “
This more or less tallies with John’s explanation on the Late, Late Show.
I have followed this up for more info on what exactly the application process is and hope to write about that side of it in the near future.
The bottom line to this piece is that there is still time to attempt to get as many clubs engaged with the process as possible. Not a huge a amount but enough.
Still time to extend the olive branch before Palm Sunday.