The International Boxing Association (AIBA) launched the Year of Africa in 2017, a continent-wide programme that aims to bring education, empowerment and a lasting legacy for boxing in the region at the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.
Conceived in collaboration with the African Boxing Confederation (AFBC) and to be implemented by the continent’s 54 National Federations (NFs), the 2017 Year of Africa has a direct reach of more than 750,000.
Through 12 principal hubs of activity around the continent, AIBA and the AFBC will host workshops, certified courses and provide hands-on boxing experience in an attempt to instigate a 250 per cent increase in Africa’s pool of referees and judges (R&Js), coaches and technical staff.
Through the development of new partnerships between AIBA, AFBC and the 54 NFs, the project will strive to provide a stronger framework for the administration of boxing in the region and, by engaging a new audience in the sport with AIBA’s new GlovesUp gateway into boxing, help to develop Africa’s future generations of boxing champions.
“The clear aspiration behind the Year of Africa is the desire to see the continent’s boxers better represented at major tournaments, including Tokyo 2020, but we are also building a legacy that will be felt beyond the next Olympic Games and that will speak to generations of sportsmen and women to come,” AIBA President CK Wu said.
“AIBA wants to bring efficiency, education and empowerment to its NFs so we can engender a shift in the perception of boxing all over the world, making explicit the positive effects of discipline and personal achievement on the psyche of young men and women and explain the unique career pathways and opportunities that are made available to them through boxing.”
At the heart of the Year of Africa is a broad education programme that will aim to ensure that the NFs, coaches, boxers and those aspiring to join the AIBA family are aware of the opportunities open to them, explaining boxing’s ethical code and positive values and encouraging more young people to embrace the sport.
The GlovesUp initiative will provide a new entry-point into boxing and AIBA as an organisation, including what it represents and the certification courses on offer, with an emphasis on the AIBA Code and the expectations placed on those taking part.
In total, 4,835 certified course places will be made available to expand the pool of R&Js, coaches and technical staff.
The Year of Africa has been designed to empower AIBA’s 54 NFs by giving them the tools and guidance to take full ownership of their nearest hub activities.
Communication and engagement are considered vital to the project’s success, and the NFs will be expected to organise and coordinate with the widest possible audience, laying foundations for future bids to host major tournaments.
The Year of Africa relies on the collective spirit of the NFs in order to produce a cumulative impact on African boxing.
In a bid to bring boxing closer to people, a truck based around AIBA’s global programme HeadsUp, housing a portable ring and training equipment in conjunction with Taishan Sports Equipment, will visit four hubs.
The HeadsUp truck will travel to Togo, Congo’s capital Brazzaville for the duration of the AFBC Continental Championships, the Olympic Centre of Excellence in South Africa and Zambia, and Hamburg for the 2017 AIBA World Championships from August 25 to September 3.
The remaining hubs are soon to be announced for the second half of 2017, with workshops, courses and associated Year of Africa activities continuing through to the end of the year.
Andile Mofu, President of the South African National Boxing Organisation (SANABO), said the body is honoured to have been selected to host the launch event for the 2017 Year of Africa.
“We are looking forward to working even more closely with AIBA, the AFBC and our fellow National Federations to build a stronger sport of boxing for all Africans as we plan for a successful Olympic Cycle towards Tokyo 2020,” he added.
Equipment worth $100,000 (£81,000/€93,000) has also been earmarked for donation to local gyms and schools, also in conjunction with Taishan Sports Equipment.
This short-term impact on the sport’s profile is seen as important, but it is believed the true legacy will be felt when young talent can be trained by new coaches and guided by efficient NFs to compete at the highest levels of AIBA competition.
Following the implementation of the flagship Year of Africa programme, it is AIBA’s ambition to take the model and adapt it to suit further territories as the governing body continues its work to build the sport of boxing and the opportunities it brings to people all around the world.
“By targeting the grass-roots of the sport, whilst at the same time engaging and connecting our extended boxing family, the Year of Africa is an incredible opportunity for the sport on our continent that we must seize with both hands,” AFBC President Kelani Bayor said.
“Africa is proud to be the focus of AIBA’s first ‘Year Of’ project, and we look forward to showing our great potential, energy and enthusiasm to the world.”