The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has launched their 2017 AIBA Year of Africa project, a continent-wide programme made up of 12 regional hubs conducting a series of initiatives, in South Africa.
The programme includes the HeadsUp Truck, AIBA’s new GlovesUp gateway into boxing and 4,835 certified course places which are hoped to initiate a 250 per cent increase in the number of certified coaches, referees and judges and technical staff across the continent.
In collaboration with the African Boxing Confederation (AFBC), the 2017 Year of Africa has been designed to "bring education, empowerment and a lasting legacy for the region’s boxing at the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle" according to AIBA.
The project will be implemented by the continent's 54 National Federations (NFs).
Through 12 core hubs of activity around the continent, AIBA and the AFBC will host workshops, certified courses and provide hands-on boxing experience.
“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," said AIBA President CK Wu.
"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."
The programme's education strand will ensure that the NFs, coaches, boxers and potentially new members are aware of the opportunities open to them, explaining boxing’s ethical code and encouraging more young people to get involved in the sport.
The GlovesUp initiative will provide a new entry-point into boxing and AIBA as an organisation, 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 referees and judges, coaches and technical staff.
The Year of Africa has been designed to promote the 54 NFs by giving them the tools and guidance to lead their own activities at their nearest hub.
Each NF will be expected to organise and coordinate events, laying foundations for future bids to host major tournaments.
A HeadsUp truck will house a portable ring and training equipment, giving people greater accessibility to boxing, while $100,000 (£80,000/€93,000) of equipment will also be available to communities, schools and local gyms.
“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," said AFBC President Kelani Bayor.
"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.”
The HeadsUp Truck will visit four locations during its journey.
It will be heading to Togo, the Republic of Congo capital Brazzaville for the duration of the AFBC Continental Championships, the Olympic Centre of Excellence in Zambia and South Africa before heading to the German city of Hamburg for the 2017 AIBA World Championships which run between August 25 and September 3.
The remaining hubs will be announced shortly for the second half of 2017, with the workshops, courses and associated Year of Africa activities continuing through to the end of the year.
Following the implementation of the flagship Year of Africa programme, AIBA are then hoping to extend the project to further territories.