Teaching the youth old tricks

Impact Fitness Academy based in Birmingham, West Midlands have built their club around the sport of Freestyle Wrestling, bringing the ancient sport to the youth of Handsworth and Lozells. The free classes provide the rare opportunity to experience the benefits of the sport first hand. 

The Head Coach – Mr Mohammed Farid, a fully qualified coach in Freestyle Wrestling witnessed how sport had brought many advantages to his personal and professional life and decided to bring the same to opportunity to the local area. Providing the chance for the youth, who wouldn’t normally associate with the sport, a chance to see for themselves the positive outcome it can have on their lives.

Despite being one of only a few clubs offering this sport in the area, freestyle wrestling has been around for a very long time. From mankind’s early beginnings the sport held a defined significance, depictions of wrestling were discovered in cave paintings in both Mongolia and in Europe.

The Ancient Egyptians held wrestling in high esteem, where wall carvings depicting the moves as practised today in wrestling are shown. It was in Egypt during an archaeological dig in the 1800s that a wrestling instruction book was found on papyrus – it is the oldest known written instruction on any sport.  A sufficient number of artefacts from both Greek and Sumerian civilisations have been discovered displaying the sport. A great testimonial to the impact wrestling had had throughout the greatest Empires of the world and its vast historic importance.

The sport in its many forms continued to expand throughout the ages and many different cultures. Mr Farid notes that even today wrestling breaks down all cultural and social barriers encouraging those to work together to form strong bonds of sportsmanship.

Another major point of historical importance is that it was amongst the few sports held at the very first Olympics and for this reason many in the industry wish to see the sport thrive and continue to be part of the Olympics for years to come.

On 12 February 2013 attempts were made by the IOC’s executive board to remove the sport from the 2020 Olympics in order to start a new sport in its place. A team was formed by Bill Scherr, which became the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW). After several meetings with FIFA and the United World Wrestling to try save it, some minor changes were made to the rules of game play, and the sport looks to continue to take its rightful place at the 2020 Olympic games set to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

To bring the sport back with a fighting spirit, Coach believes that the wrestling needs to be encouraged at a young age. He dreams that the youth of Birmingham will gain the skills and determination to succeed at the Olympics in the future.

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With Impact Fitness Academy’s success at the recent 2017 Welsh Open, bringing back four Gold, one Silver and two Bronze medals, the dream is becoming an ever closer reality. Coach feels that it is important that the classes are available to as many as we can support within our communities.

It was the passion to bring the sport to others, to give back to the community and provide vital skills to the youth that drove Coach to form the non profit organisation in Birmingham.

Founded in July 2015 by Mohammed Farid and Sahara Mohammed, the Community Interest Company set out to change lives through the sport of MMA and Wrestling, continually promoting equality, mutual respect, accountability and professionalism.

The advantages of improved fitness levels, increased confidence, life skills, team work and essential guidance and vision are just some of the benefits enjoyed by the students.

Coach Farid commented ”Within one year our growth has been immense. We now run classes in partnership with Sport4life, Birmingham City Council, Near Neighbours amongst many – we are grateful to have the support we have received from the community.

 ”The sport allows the breakdown of social barriers, any age, race and gender can come together to take part. The skills gained from this sport can transfer to real life situations. The benefits are endless.”

Working with Handsworth Lesiure Centre, the satellite club was formed to help re-engage with hard to reach and at risk youth. With emphasis on promoting self-discipline and improved physical activity the free classes allow students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to desist from anti-social activity and encourage social cohesion. Children are motivated in setting targets and they learn new skills enabling them to make positive life changing decisions and providing long term career prospects.

The number of children taking part in the classes are a clear indication of how sport programmes are vitally needed in the community. The support of volunteers is vital to these projects getting off the ground and succeeding.

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Coach adds that the advantage of joining the sports club can have a long term positive effect on students.  By working through the various levels in the sport, the young person can develop a career path that leads to coaching and in time running classes of their own. Even in a non-sporting environment the habits and techniques of self-improvement, dedication to personal goals and hard work are all transferable skills in the work place.

Within the first year more than two hundred beneficiaries have demonstrated positive outcomes, welcomed within the community. Impact Fitness Academy are continually looking to extend what they do, in terms of bringing more classes via schools and youth groups. To do that they need a network of people that are willing to help their community.

Alongside the free classes at Handsworth and Lozells, Impact Fitness Academy also runs classes from Joseph Chamberlain fitness centre, now British Wrestling Affiliated. This is another benefit in their first year of being a CIC

To find out more about the services and classes Impact Fitness Academy provide follow on their social media – Facebook/Twitter.

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