Mixed martial arts in Australia is set to receive state funding for its ActiveKids Programme in New South Wales ©IMMAFA

Mixed martials arts in Australia has received state funding in New South Wales for its ActiveKids Programme, which aims to get school children involved in sport and active recreation.

Leading this initiative has been International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF)-qualified coach Julian Evans.

Parents, guardians and carers will receive two AUD$100 (£55/$77/€65) vouchers under the programme, one for each half of the year, for children towards the cost of sport.

The programme is now into its fourth year, which has seen 2.6 million vouchers redeemed.

The New South Wales Government support of the programme has led to its growing popularity in the Australian state, with customer satisfaction rating currently standing at 99.8 per cent.

Evans, who was involved in fitting the IMMAF Youth Policy into the New South Wales requirements, explained the process of the programme.

"Generally speaking, the New South Wales goals are to increase children's participation in physical activity, reduce obesity/overweight issues in children, and to overall change the physical activity and behaviours of children and young people in the state," he said.

"The process itself is quite streamlined now after several years of the programme."

Youth development plays a large part in IMMAF's ambitions to grow mixed martial arts ©IMMAF
Youth development plays a large part in IMMAF's ambitions to grow mixed martial arts ©IMMAF

The programme looks to provide a structured programme of a minimum of eight weeks of moderate-intense activity, while ensuring safeguarding by checking accreditation in higher-risk activities and backgrounds of those working with children.

"We are at a critical time now at the tail-end of COVID-19 where schools and sports are opening up more," said Evans.

"A renewed enthusiasm for any sports participation has already been seen.

"Add to this the prominence of mixed martial arts in pop culture and the media, and the fact that there is an established syllabus that can be delivered safely and according to each student's ability: this is a watershed moment for MMA to become a well-established standard programme for school students' participation."

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown praised the work of the Australian governing body for its continuing growth.

"With IMMAF's strategic priority being youth development, carefully crafted projects which attract public interest and funding, are crucial to sustainable development," he said.

"Yet again, our friends in Australia are blazing the trail in amateur MMA."