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Muay Thai helping our youth

Members of the Fortitude Thai Boxing kids’ club being put through their paces at Waimanaaki. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

JAKE BELESKI

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Self-confidence, mental fortitude and resilience.

They are just three of the reasons why youngsters are taking up Muay Thai at the Fortitude Thai Boxing Club in Masterton.

A push to cater for all age groups has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people taking up the sport.

The club re-introduced a kids’ club this year, and the results were instant.

Professional fighter and trainer, Zane Hopman, said the club had grown through word of mouth and social media.

“We had about 10 advanced kids and about six beginners at the start, and now we’ve got a roster of about 40 kids in total, and it’s expanding each week.

“Within the region, and from the club’s standpoint, the register has probably tripled since we got the kid’s club going at the gym again about six months ago.”

That success allowed the club to take 11 children on a two-day camp to Waimanaaki — at Riversdale Beach — earlier this month.

Hopman said the camp had team building exercises built into it, and was designed to help the children get along with each other and strengthen their relationships.

“We worked on the mental and emotional side of it as well.

“There was training involved but plenty of other fun things throughout the weekend as well.”

He said there were a multitude of reasons why children were willing to give Muay Thai a go, and for his club it had been a matter of putting procedures in place and taking a professional approach to how they were conducting themselves with the children.

“Some kids want to try it for the physicality and cross training for their rugby or whatever it might be, and some are there because they want to do Thai boxing as a sport.

“Strengthening self-confidence and mental fortitude is a big part as well, and it teaches them resilience in all aspects of their lives.”

Hopman said his goal was always to promote the sport within the region, as well as on a national scale.

Getting new blood through the gym and helping them to strengthen themselves personally was a major part of that goal.

“It’s about giving something back to the club with the kids that want to take it up as a sport, whether that’s full-time or part-time.”

One area of concern was that there was a big gap between the kids’ club and the adult part of the club, he said.

Hopman has been working with students from Wairarapa College and Makoura College, and catering for the teenage age bracket is something the club will be looking at introducing in the near-future.

“We’re looking at bringing in a college age bracket class next term, or next year depending on how things progress.

“My intentions for the youth and club is to strengthen that area, and provide these kind of camp scenarios on a regular basis.”

He said the camp would not have been possible without the help of the managers of Waimanaaki, Tania and Stephen Hopman, and senior fighters Jade Fleetwood and Brent Surgrue.

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